Why Aren’t Tulsi Gabbard & Marianne Williamson in Tonight’s Debate?
Tonight is the Democratic debate, but why aren’t Marianne Williamson and Tulsi Gabbard on the stage tonight? Where are they? The answer is simple. Neither Gabbard nor Williamson qualified for the September Democratic debate. However, there’s still a chance they might qualify in October.
Neither Polled High Enough for Tonight’s Debate
The candidates for tonight are former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Cory Booker, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.
Because of more stringent debate requirements, the candidates in tonight’s debate are narrowed down to just 10 rather than the 20 who participated last time in July. The requirements for this debate included receiving 2 percent or more in four qualifying polls between June 28 and August 28, and receiving donations from at least 130,000 unique donors (with a minimum of 400 donors per state in at least 20 states.) The cutoff for qualifying donations was 11:59 p.m. on August 28.
Candidates have until 11:59 p.m. Eastern on October 1 to qualify for the October 15 and 16 debates. The requirements are the same as they were for tonight’s debate.
Tulsi Gabbard is closer to qualifying than Marianne Williamson is, but only be a little bit more. Gabbard and Williamson have both already qualified for the donor threshold. In fact, according to 538, they’re the only candidates who did not qualify for the September debate who have already qualified in donors. (Except, of course, for Tom Steyer who has qualified in both donors and polls and is assured a spot in the October debates.)
Gabbard has qualified in two official qualifying polls, so she needs just two more. Williamson has qualified in one poll, so she still needs three more. Without getting the attention from being in the debates tonight, it might be a little tougher for both of them in the upcoming polls. But it’s not impossible.
Gabbard almost qualified for a third poll.
The latest Washington Post / ABC News poll has us at 2%. So this is our 3rd out of 4 required "qualifying polls" needed to be on the debate stage in October.
— Tulsi Gabbard 🌺 (@TulsiGabbard) September 8, 2019
In an ABC News/Washington Post poll, she had 1 percent support among adult respondents and 2 percent among registered voters. Unfortunately, the DNC only uses a poll’s “top-line” number that appears first in a survey, so Gabbard’s 2 percent didn’t count (although in other polls it might have been enough to qualify her.)
Gabbard also performed at 3 percent in a recent poll that also didn’t count.
Another poll conducted by a reputable university and published in a major newspaper puts Tulsi above the required threshold for the debates — and ahead of 5 candidates who have qualified — but you guessed it: doesn't count https://t.co/XITDg6Pkv5
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) September 11, 2019
And she hit six percent in an Emerson poll.
— Political Polls (@Politics_Polls) September 10, 2019
Both Have Been Surprise Stars in Previous Debates
Both Gabbard and Williamson have been surprise stars of previous debates. Gabbard stood out when she questioned Kamala Harris in a previous debate about her criminal justice reform record. Gabbard’s questioning later went viral with the hashtag #TulsiDestroysKamala.
Then Williamson stood out in the July 30 debate, first talking about dark psychic forces and then talking about reparations.
Her comments sparked a lot of tweets of approval.
— Matt Whitlock (@mattdizwhitlock) July 31, 2019
She didn’t hold back about Flint either.
Marianne Williamson’s campaign just sent a fundraising email around this moment tonight which included a loose comparison of the Flint water crisis to water issues in Denmark, S.C. #SC2020 https://t.co/PxVuyW73tm
— Gavin Jackson (@GavinJackson) July 31, 2019
My response on the Flint water crisis is that Flint is just the tip of the iceberg. I was recently in Denmark, South Carolina where there's a lot of talk about it being the next Flint. #BigTruth #DemDebate #FlintWaterCrisis
— Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) July 31, 2019
— Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) July 31, 2019
Both Gabbard and Williamson picked up a lot of supporters after their performances in the debate. It wasn’t enough to qualify either for the debate tonight, but there’s still time for them to catch up.
The DNC will regret not having #TulsiGabbard on the coming debate stage (although she'll almost certainly make it for October).This setback is, ironically, showing the world what Tulsi is made of. She's not backing down. She's pumped & her speeches r dynamite and ppl r enthralled
— Megan (On Parler as UnSilent Canadian) Metcalfe (@MetcalfeMegan) September 9, 2019
The debates will certainly be less entertaining without them.