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Julián Castro qualifies for the September Democratic debates

This image is a four-way splitscreen of Booker, Warren, Harris, and Buttigieg.
Booker, Harris, Buttigieg and Warren. Photos: Scott Olson/Getty Images, Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images, and Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

The third round of Democratic debates starts September 12 in Houston, Texas. The stage is about to get a lot smaller.

How it works: This debate doubles the qualifying threshold of the last two, requiring candidates reach 2% in 4 DNC-approved polls and draw 130,000 unique donors — including 400 donors in 20 different states. Candidates have until August 28 to make the cut.

Why it matters: The Democrats' massive 2020 field has put pressure on the DNC to focus its primary on those who can really challenge President Trump.

Candidates at 2% in 4 qualifying polls and 130,000 unique donors:

  1. Former Vice President Joe Biden
  2. Sen. Bernie Sanders
  3. Sen. Kamala Harris
  4. Sen. Elizabeth Warren
  5. Mayor Pete Buttigieg
  6. Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke
  7. Sen. Cory Booker
  8. Sen. Amy Klobuchar
  9. Andrew Yang
  10. Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro

Candidates with 130,000 unique donors:

  1. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
  2. Billionaire and activist Tom Steyer

Candidates who have not met any qualifications for Houston:

  1. Gov. Jay Inslee
  2. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
  3. Mayor Wayne Messam
  4. Rep. Seth Moulton
  5. Former Rep. Joe Sestak
  6. Former Rep. John Delaney
  7. Rep. Tim Ryan
  8. Sen. Michael Bennet
  9. Mayor Bill de Blasio
  10. Gov. Steve Bullock
  11. Marianne Williamson

The bottom line: If more than 10 candidates qualify, the debate will take place over two nights. Some worry that drastically changing DNC rules will severely winnow the primary field.

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Editor's note: This piece has been updated to reflect recent DNC requirement changes for the September debate.