A new rule adopted by the Democratic National Committee and NBC News will evenly divide top-tier candidates across two nights in the first Democratic presidential primary debates in June, a move to maintain viewer interest in both events by making sure well-known contenders are on stage both nights.
Democrats getting at least 2 percent support in the polling average will be randomly and evenly split between the two nights, which will each feature 10 candidates, according to the formula obtained by POLITICO. Candidates below that threshold will also be evenly and randomly divided between the two debate lineups.
The rule says: “the final list of debate participants (after any tie-breaking procedure is executed, if necessary) will be divided into two groups: candidates with a polling average of 2% or above, and those with a polling average below 2%. Both groups will be randomly divided between Wednesday night and Thursday night thus ensuring that both groups are represented fairly on each night.”
As things stand now, eight candidates are polling higher than 2%: Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren. Under the above rule, four will appear on each of the two nights. It’s therefore possible that Biden and Bernie will not be on the same stage.