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NBC, CNN to host the first two 2020 Democratic primary debates

Posted at 2:08 PM, Feb 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-14 16:13:41-05

The Democratic National Committee on Thursday announced details for the first two presidential primary debates of the 2020 cycle, with plans to hold each debate over two consecutive nights in anticipation of a large field of candidates.

The first debate will take place in June and the second one in July of 2019. NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo are set to partner on the June debate, and CNN is set to host the July event.

Each debate will feature randomized lineups drawn from a maximum of 20 qualifying candidates, according to the DNC. A total of 12 presidential primary debates are planned during the 2020 cycle.

The exact dates and locations of the debates were not announced.

The Democratic field to take on President Donald Trump in 2020 is already large and diverse, with 11 contenders in the race and other high-profile candidates, including former Vice President Joe Biden and former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, still considering a run.

Qualifying for the debates is based on a "two-path" system, determined by both polling and grassroots fundraising. The selection methodology will use "the two measures in combination" if more than 20 candidates qualify and the field needs to be narrowed down.

"We've spent months working with media partners to provide this unprecedented opportunity for candidates and voters to get to know each other. Because campaigns are won on the strength of their grassroots, we've also updated the threshold, giving all types of candidates the opportunity to reach the debate stage and giving small-dollar donors a bigger voice in the primary than ever before," DNC Chair Tom Perez said in a statement.

According to the DNC, candidates "may qualify for the debate by registering at 1% or more support in three separate polls (either national polls or polls of the electorate in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and/or Nevada) publicly released between January 1, 2019, and 14 days prior to the date of the debate," with "qualifying polls" coming from a DNC-approved list. That list includes polls from the Associated Press, ABC News, CBS News, CNN, Des Moines Register, Fox News, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Monmouth University, NBC News, New York Times, NPR, Quinnipiac University, Reuters, University of New Hampshire, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Washington Post and Winthrop University.

The three polls used by candidates to qualify for the debate must be from three different organizations, or the same organization but of different geographical areas.

In addition to the polling criteria, candidates may qualify if they have received campaign contributions from at least 65,000 unique donors, and a minimum of 200 unique donors per state in at least 20 US states.

If more than 20 candidates qualify, the selection would prioritize those who met both thresholds, followed by those who met just the polling threshold, and then grassroots fundraising.

The new selection criteria will initially apply only to the first two debates.

The DNC first announced its plans to hold 12 debates in December. Six of the debates will be held in 2019, while another six will be held in 2020. In addition to the June and July debates, there will be one debate in September, October, November and December this year.

The final debate is set to take place in April 2020, roughly two months before the Democratic National Convention in July.