The Democratic stage will be the smallest yet for next Tuesday’s Iowa debate, with just six candidates set to qualify.
Billionaire activist Tom Steyer likely became the latest candidate to qualify on Thursday after two Fox News polls from Nevada and South Carolina showed him in the double digits. Steyer has been spending millions of dollars in early states to boost his chances.
That means he will join the other five candidates who had already qualified: former Vice President Joe Biden; former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
The debate will be Tuesday, January 14, at 9 p.m. ET, and is being hosted by CNN and the Des Moines Register. The deadline to qualify is by midnight Friday, January 10, but no other candidates appear close to meeting the Democratic National Committee’s threshold.
As they have with each previous debate, the DNC instituted dual polling and fundraising requirements. Candidates must hit 5% in at least four national polls or at least 7% in two early state polls. And they had to get 225,000 unique donors from 20 different states.
Non-profit executive Andrew Yang, who was the only other candidate who had also made December’s debate, looks to fall short of the January cut-off, since he only has one qualifying poll with just a day to go until the deadline. There are 14 total Democrats who are still running, though.
The ever-shrinking debate stage should offer more time for candidates to engage with each other and offer substantive responses, with less than three weeks to go until the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3.
The most recent polls in that first state have shown Biden, Buttgieg and Biden fighting for first place, though a new Iowa survey by respected state pollster J. Ann Selzer for the Register and CNN is set to be released Friday at 6 p.m. ET.
Warren has faded in recent weeks in polling, while Klobuchar has seen a boomlet following strong performances in the past two debates. And Steyer has seen a surprising surge given his spending that has dwarfed most of the field.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg would have qualified for this debate based on polling, but he is entirely self-funding his and not accepting any donations. He’s instead been focusing his attention on the more delegate-rich states that will vote on Super Tuesday on March 3.