DNC debates requires primary changes


The deadline to qualify for the third round of Democractic primary debates passed on Aug. 27, with 10 candidates making the cut. Among the presidential hopefuls left out was Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who technically failed to meet the requirements laid out by the Democratic National Committee.

Arbitrary rules excluded her from the debate, rules set to prevent underdogs from competing with established candidates like former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren. The DNC must broaden the ways candidates can qualify by accepting more polls and looking for other means of measuring popularity. This time around, scrutiny is on democrats to show that they aren’t rigging the democratic process.

The 2016 general election was riddled with skepticism about the legitimacy of the American voting process due to Russian interference, which led to a two-year-plus investigation, while DNC members worked internally to suppress one candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, in favor of another, Hillary Clinton, who ended up being the Democratic nominee, according to reports from the Washington Post

Democratic presidential candidates answer a question by a shower of hands on the first night of the DNC debate June 26, 2019. (Photo courtesy of PBS)

The DNC seems unable to understand there is scrutiny surrounding it this time around. To qualify for the third round of Democratic primary debates, candidates needed to have at least 130,000 individual donors and to poll at least 2% in four different DNC approved organizations, according to rules set in May 2019. The specific type of polls would come from national organizations or states that include Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and/or Nevada. 

No specific reasons have indicated the approved polls were chosen over others. And the burden on how a poll is determined to be legitimate, since that would be a concern, should be on the DNC to accept or deny with clear reason given why. 

Gabbard, a low-profile representative from Hawaii before the 2020 primary, met the donor requirement, but had just two qualifying polls in before the deadline. If it weren’t for the DNC limiting the number of polls to 20 approved organizations, Gabbard would have qualified based on more than two dozen other national and early state polls, according to The Hill.

Two from the list of polling organizations include the Boston Globe and The Economist, which are both reputable entities, but apparently not in the eyes of the DNC.

Surely, the DNC should include polling from news organizations with a legacy of trust in its list of approved organizations.

But, if established news organizations aren’t enough for the DNC, how about the world’s largest search engine?

After the second round of Democratic primary debates, which had establishment Democrats like Sen. Kamala Harris and Biden, Gabbard was the most searched candidate in all 50 states, according to Google Trends.

If the most searched candidate on Google is shut out from the debates, the DNC needs to look at its debate qualifications from this point on. Yet, Gabbard will not be on stage Sept. 12 for the third round of debates.