The Democratic National Committee announced on Friday that the sixth Democratic primary debate would be held in December at the University of California, Los Angeles, while ratcheting up the polling and donor criteria for candidates to qualify for a coveted spot onstage.
The debate will be held on Dec. 19 and sponsored by PBS NewsHour and Politico. The format and moderators have not yet been announced. Another debate is scheduled for Nov. 20, sponsored by MSNBC and The Washington Post.
In an effort to narrow the number of candidates after the largest debate ever in October, the D.N.C. is raising its thresholds for the December debate. It will require candidates to have at least 200,000 individual donors and meet one of two polling requirements: They must either receive 4 percent support in four national or early-state polls conducted by qualifying pollsters, or 6 percent support in two polls in the four early states — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.
A New York Times analysis of polling and donor data shows that three candidates have already qualified for the December debate: former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. None of the other 15 candidates in the field have yet hit the D.N.C.’s polling standard, and it is unclear how many of them have crossed the donor threshold.
Many party strategists and activists have clamored for the 2020 Democratic field — and debate stage — to be culled. With 10 or more candidates onstage at every debate so far, there has been limited time for the leading candidates to engage in prolonged and detailed discussions.
The thresholds for the November debate are 165,000 donors, and 3 percent in four polls or 5 percent in two polls in the early states. So far nine candidates have qualified for the November debate, with Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota securing her spot this week.
Three candidates who were in the October debate have yet to qualify for November: former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas, Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and the former housing secretary Julián Castro.
With less than $700,000 in the bank entering October, Mr. Castro has said he may quit the race at the end of this month if he does not raise an additional $800,000. By comparison, Mr. Sanders had the most money in the bank, $33.7 million.
Missing the debate stage has so far been a virtual death knell for campaigns. Those candidates who have dropped out — most recently Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio on Thursday — did so either after they missed previous debate thresholds or were on track to miss them.
To count toward the December qualifications, polls must be publicly released between Oct. 16 and Dec. 12, one week before the debate.
Matt Stevens contributed reporting.