Speed Reads

new rules

DNC rule change will likely let Michael Bloomberg qualify for February's Democratic debate

The Democratic National Committee is breaking one of its biggest promises.

Every time the DNC's debate qualifications kept key candidates off the stage, the committee was criticized for its seemingly arbitrary and exclusionary rules. But the DNC still refused to relent — until Friday, when it abruptly dropped the donor requirement for February's second debate.

Candidates will have three ways to make the February debate stage, the DNC revealed. They can earn 10 percent support in a combination of four national polls or those from Nevada and South Carolina, they can get 12 percent support in just two Nevada and South Carolina polls, or they can earn one delegate in the Iowa caucus or New Hampshire primary. Contenders will have until Feb. 18, the day before the Nevada debate, to do so.

It immediately became clear the change would benefit former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who entered the 2020 race late but has polled fairly well ever since. There's a good chance Bloomberg will hit one of those polling requirements and, with his own billions largely funding his campaign, he doesn't need to worry about racking up small-money donors anymore.

The change came despite candidates of color noting the rules had kept them off the stage, leading to an entirely white debate in December and a dismissive defense from the DNC. Some critics on the left even speculated the DNC made the rule change explicitly for Bloomberg, but Addisu Demissie, who was the campaign manager for Sen. Cory Booker's (D-N.J.) 2020 run, had no words for what went down. Kathryn Krawczyk