DNC raises qualifying thresholds for sixth Democratic debate

The Democratic National Committee raised the fundraising and polling thresholds for the sixth Democratic debate on Friday, a move that could further reduce the size of the debates before primaries begin next year.

Democratic candidates, in order to qualify for the debate, will now need to receive 4% in at least four national or early state polls that meet the DNC’s criteria or 6% in two early state polls. These polls must be released between Oct. 16 and Dec. 12.

Candidates will also have to have received donations from at least 200,000 unique donors, with a minimum of 800 from at least 20 different states. Like the polling threshold, candidate will have until Dec. 12 to meet the fundraising threshold.

PBS NewsHour and Politico will co-host the debate on Dec. 19 in Los Angeles.

These new thresholds are an increase to what candidates had to achieve before the Democratic National Committee’s November debate: 3% in at least four DNC-approved polls of Democratic voters nationally (or at least 5% in two polls of the early-voting states) and donations from 165,000 separate donors — including a minimum of 600 donors each in at least 20 states or territories.

Under the new criteria, former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders have each already met the polling threshold for the December debate based on polls released since Oct. 16.

California Sen. Kamala Harris and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg are both one poll away: Each have three polls that meet the four-poll threshold and one that meets the early state polling threshold.

Businessman Tom Steyer has two polls that meet the four-poll threshold and none that meet the early state threshold.

No other candidate has any polls that meet either threshold.

The DNC, since it began hosting presidential primary debates this summer, has consistently raised the thresholds for the contests, slowly shrinking the field of Democrats have are on the high-profile debate stages.

With millions of viewers, the debates have proven an important chance for Democrats to stand out in a crowded field and they have offered voters a chance to narrow the list of candidates they plan to support.

The increased thresholds could prove problematic for several candidates who will be on the debate stage in November.

Businessman Andrew Yang, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar all appear to have qualified for the November debate, but none of them currently have the polls needed to make the December debate.

And three candidates — former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard — qualified for the October debate but have yet to qualify for the November contest. The increase in thresholds for the December debate makes it even harder to the three to qualify.

CNN’s Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.