The DNC debate rules were awful from the start – Washington Examiner

When the clock strikes midnight tonight, the September Democratic presidential debate stage will be set in stone, but a number of campaigns have already begun to lead the charge against the DNC. Sleeper candidates ranging from Tulsi Gabbard to Tom Steyer have lambasted the seemingly arbitrary selections of authorized pollsters for debate qualification. On the other side of the coin, critics point to Steyer’s success in meeting the DNC’s “small donor” requirement as evidence that a billionaire can potentially still buy his way into the October debate.

But the system was rigged from the get go. The DNC ought to have employed the same undercard debate system as the Republicans did in 2016. September’s likely ten-person lineup proves it.

Voters still haven’t seen front-runner Joe Biden and second place contender Elizabeth Warren on the same stage. Meanwhile, despite tanking in the polls, Beto O’Rourke secured a place on the September stage, surely in part because he never faced heavy hitters like Kamala Harris or statistically electable candidates like Joe Biden. It’s easy to shine next to Jay Inslee. Next to the candidate with the best odds of beating President Trump, not so much.

Speaking of Inslee, he’s already out of the race, and surely many will follow soon as they fail to meet the DNC’s stringent October debate requirements. The DNC didn’t want to tier the candidates to replicate the mess of the 2016 primary, but would voters not have been able to whittle the field more effectively if they had done so?

Consider: late breaking candidates like Andrew Yang and Gabbard could have shone in an undercard debate, while waning candidates like Beto and Cory Booker would have shown their weaknesses when up against those in their own polling territory. Instead, Gabbard will likely not sit on the September stage, while Amy Klobuchar, who’s polling below the Hawaii congresswoman’s average, will.

An undercard debate would’ve whittled down the field naturally. Candidates like Inslee and John Hickenlooper still would have realized their campaigns lacked viability, but grassroots candidacies would have still had the chance to shine. Now we’ll be subjected to yet another night of ten candidates all talking past each other. At least this time, we won’t have to do it twice in a row.


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