Looming over the high-stakes debate are those who won’t be in attendance. The Democratic National Committee said candidates had to hit at least 4% in four national polls or at least 6% in two early-state polls in the weeks leading up to the event in order to qualify. The candidates also had to attract at least 200,000 donors.
That leaves no black or Latino candidates among the nearly all-white lineup of Democratic frontrunners. Senator Cory Booker and the former housing secretary Julián Castro both failed to qualify for the debate, and Senator Kamala Harris recently ended her campaign amid polling showing her far behind in California, her home state.
Also absent from the event will be Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor and billionaire who made a late entrance into the race last monthand has poured an estimated $13.5m into TV ads in California. Steyer, the other billionaire in the race, has spent roughly $1.6m on ads in the state.