Jul 16, 2019

The 5 leaders of the Democratic presidential pack

Photos: Getty Images

There's no such thing as a "front-runner" until Iowa Democrats caucus in January, but it's increasingly clear that 5 campaigns have a structural advantage entering the fall.

The big picture: Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris have built campaigns that can raise piles of cash — which they can use to build donor lists to raise even bigger piles of cash.

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Data: FEC; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios (See the interactive version)

Why it matters: The September debates require candidates to meet both a higher polling threshold and have twice as many donors as the first two rounds.

  • As of today, only the top 5 have qualified.
  • Watch at the next debate for candidates outside the top 5 — such as Julián Castro, who earned rave reviews after Debate 1 — to make a ploy for another big round of earned media.
  • Read FiveThirtyEight's breakdown of the September race.

The bottom line: Expect the field of 20+ to winnow significantly in the next few months.

Go deeper: Keep track of the latest fundraising numbers

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Cory Booker qualifies for 3rd 2020 Democratic debate

Sen. Cory Booker. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Sen. Cory Booker's campaign told CNN on Monday that he surpassed 130,000 unique donors, a requirement to participate in the fall Democratic debate.

Why it matters: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg and Beto O’Rourke all have qualified for September.

Go deeperArrowJul 29, 2019

The 2020 candidates who have qualified for the next Democratic debate

Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren. Photos: Scott Olson/Getty Images, Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images, and Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

The fourth round of Democratic debates will be held on Oct. 15 in Westerville, Ohio, with 12 candidates onstage, making it the biggest single-night debate to date. 

How it works: This debate had the same requirements as September's. Qualifying candidates must have reached 2% in 4 DNC-approved polls and drawn 130,000 unique donors — including 400 donors in 20 different states. Oct. 1 was the final day to make the cut.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Oct 2, 2019

DNC releases names of 20 qualifying candidates for second round of debates

Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris speak during the first round of Democratic primary debate on June 27, 2019. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

The Democratic National Committee released on Wednesday the names of the 20 presidential candidates who have qualified for the second round of debates scheduled for July 30-31 in Detroit.

The big picture: It's only going get more challenging for candidates to meet debate requirements moving forward. In September, the requirements for candidates will double. The Democrats' massive 2020 field has put pressure on the DNC to focus its primary on those who can really challenge President Trump.

Go deeperArrowJul 17, 2019