More importantly, which haven’t? The mid-September debate in Houston has a tougher bar for entry, and thus far only seven candidates have already cleared it. The rest have until August 28th, the New York Times explains, but at the moment only three more are close enough to manage it:
Candidates will need to have 130,000 unique donors and register at least 2 percent support in four polls. They have until Aug. 28 to reach those benchmarks.
These criteria could easily halve the field: The first two sets of debates included 20 of the 24 candidates, but a New York Times analysis of polls and donor numbers shows that only 10 to 12 candidates are likely to make the third round.
Who’s already in? The usual suspects:
The last three might be on their last legs, but at least they’re still upright. Three more candidates just need one more qualifying poll — Castro, Yang, and Klobuchar. None of them had a good enough moment at either debate to expect a breakout poll bump, but they still might get lucky with a margin-of-error shift. Only three other candidates out of the 24 or so in the race even have one qualifying poll: Steyer, Gabbard, and Hickenlooper, and none of them have enough qualifying donors either.
One has to wonder whether Gabbard would get a big enough bump to stay on stage. She needs three more polls and about 20,000 more donors, but she’s the only one with enough of a moment last night to get either. It’s no secret that Joe Biden would love to have his wingman on stage to go after Kamala Harris, and at least theoretically he could start showing her some love with his own donors to boost her into position. That might erode her standing to take on Harris, though, and would look like dirty pool at some level.
The rest of the field looks hopeless, though, so be prepared for a single night’s combat in September. That won’t change the dynamic appreciably, since both debates have featured a similar number of people on stage, just over two nights. It’s still too many for a reasoned debate, which means all the incentives will line up for gotcha shots on the frontrunner. If the lineup is these seven plus the three on the bubble, Biden will be in worse shape since only Klobuchar comes close to the moderate lane — and she’s not been inclined to throw herself in front of Biden as Gabbard has done.
Until the stage gets down to four or five candidates with real shots at winning even a single primary or caucus, it will still remain a food fight. And as such, interest in them will continue to wane.