Election 2020: A Shrinking Field, A Looming Debate, and New Rules in Iowa

Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Erin Schaff/The New York Times

With two weeks to go until the third Democratic debate, this week was all about locking in candidates who will be participating and, in some cases, eliminating those who will not. After candidates John Hickenlooper and Jay Inslee dropped out of the race last week, Kirsten Gillibrand ended her campaign on Wednesday. She failed to meet the qualifications to participate in the debate on September 12. 

A much covered poll released earlier this week showed Joe Biden losing significant steam in his campaign, falling into a three-way tie with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. All three of the frontrunners are now polling at approximately 20%. Biden’s campaign criticized the poll, calling it an anomaly. However, two other polls released on Wednesday show Biden comfortably ahead of Warren and Sanders. 

This week also saw the announcement of the lineup for the third Democratic debate. Because only ten of the twenty candidates still in the running qualified for the debate, the event will only last one night. The candidates polling the highest will take center stage and those polling lower will stand on the fringes. This will be the first time  that frontrunners Warren and Biden meet in a debate, as they have been placed on different nights by chance in the previous two debates.

As the Iowa caucus gradually approaches, election officials have had to decide how to handle remote voting in caucus states. Caucusing traditionally requires attending a several-hours-long meeting in the middle of winter in order to advocate for your preferred candidate. New voting guidelines require caucus states to allow voters to participate remotely, without attending a caucus event. However, the DNC has granted waivers to Iowa and Nevada, blocking plans that would allow some voters to participate in the caucus by phone. The elimination of the virtual option in these states was decided due to concerns about remote voting being hacked. Nine other states that hold caucuses have switched to a primary system at the urging of the DNC.

With next week as the last week before the debate, we can expect to see more coverage of candidate polling and strategies for the debate. Additionally, next week is CNN’s climate town hall, which will take place on Wednesday, September 4. The candidates will speak in turns, each having the chance to directly address voters on this issue of climate change without the pressure of addressing other policies or directly arguing with their competitors.