Getting a spot at the Democratic debates just got harder The Democratic National Committee (DNC) just changed the rules for 2020 candidates hoping to get onstage for the September debate. Not everyone is happy.
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It looks like the DNC's poll policy will keep Tulsi Gabbard and Tom Steyer out of the third debate.
That is outrageous. On its face, the policy of requiring candidates to achieve two percent in polls to show their viability as candidates is a bottom-up approach that seems fair. But it is fatally flawed.
The whole poll policy hands the process of how to poll and who to include in polls to the polling organizations, many of them mainstream media owned by multi-billion dollar corporations. For example, although Senator Mike Gravel raised over 67,000 donations he was not allowed in the second debate because he had not met the criteria in enough polls. The problem was, not all pollsters including Gravel in their polls at all.
That alone is a reason not to consider poll results as a condition for eligibility to participate in debates. If the DNC required pollsters to include all declared candidates in their polls, it might start to look kosher. But imagine, if a private company was given the responsibility of counting votes That would be ridiculous too. Oh, wait that's what most elections do, by trusting the electronic technology currently in use.
Consider that Tulsi Gabbard reports she has achieved at least two percent in 26 polls. But only two of them have met the DNC's criteria. Gabbard notes that "Many of the uncertified polls, including those conducted by highly reputable organizations such as The Economist and the Boston Globe, are ranked by Real Clear Politics and FiveThirtyEight as more accurate than some DNC "certified" polls."
Now you could say that all candidates have had to deal with the same rules, But those rules are wrong and should not exist at all.
The DNC is right to seek bottom-up ways to show candidate viability. And the number of donors works for me. But polls are not really bottom-up. They are run by parties with special interests and conflicts of interest. They are decided by a handful of powerful people. And polls are notoriously unreliable.
There are better ways to create a formula for assessing eligibility and there are some bad ones. For example, looking at number of social media followers-- Twitter or Facebook-- is a bad way, because it is possible to set up fake accounts. It's said that millions of Trump's Twitter followers are fake.
One reasonable approach might be to look at number of campaign volunteers.
Another way is to assess crowd size. This can be quantified. I'm not sure Hillary would have made the debates if crowd size was considered. I'm not sure Joe Biden would.
Another way to assess the bottom-up, crowd supported power of a candidate's campaign would be to look at the percentage of donations under $100. If a candidate has a higher ratio of donations under $100 then the candidate has a bigger potential for receiving continued support than a candidate who has maxed out.
There are probably other ways as well. They should be used to replace the outrageous use of polls.