Politico published an article yesterday outlining how the Democratic Primary will unfold over the next year or so. Back during the primary leading up to Hillary Clinton’s eventual nomination in 2016, a lot of people were uncomfortable with the processes and took issue with what they perceived as a “rigged” system favored toward institutional candidates like Clinton. That’s probably not without merit, but it does follow that the candidate preferred by the establishment would know better how to navigate the myriad rules involved.
Nonetheless, the DNC is hyper cognizant of the issues from 2016 and Tom Perez et al are making strides in creating a transparent process for the 2020 contest. Whereas the primary field in 2016 quickly narrowed to two premier candidates, the current slate of Democratic hopefuls will likely number somewhere north of a dozen (and hopefully fewer than two dozen). The selection process for debates will be integral to launching and plummeting the campaigns of prospective candidates; the media coverage of a presidential primary debate might be the most that some of the smaller names could hope to enjoy.
The details of the debates and the qualifications to participate are straightforward. Per Politico:
- The first debates will be limited to 20 candidates, with debates divided over two nights if necessary
- Candidates will be required to meet a fundraising or polling threshold to qualify
- The first debate will be on NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo in June
- The second debate will be on CNN in July
- For the first two debates, a qualifying candidate has to either poll at 1% or higher in three separate polls (national polls or early nomination state polls)
- For the first debate, the fundraising qualification requires donations from 65,000 people in at least 20 different states
- A method to narrow the field if more than 20 qualify will give preference to candidates that meet both the fundraising and polling thresholds
- The DNC plans on about a dozen debates over the primary season
This presidential primary season, North Carolina will continue to play a large role. The first few states, as per usual, are the Iowa caucus on February 3rd, the New Hampshire primary February 11th, the Nevada caucus February 22nd, and the South Carolina primary on February 29th (a leap year!).
Whoever leaves those contests faces a big night on March 3rd: Super Tuesday. On that day, Alabama, California, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and, yes, North Carolina, hold their primaries. Though anything can happen, many candidates will drop out after that night and the true frontrunners should come into focus.
Kirk Kovach is a native North Carolinian interested in writing about politics, communication and culture.