Democrats’ Next Debate Is One Poll Away From Being Split Over Two Nights (Again)

The third round of Democratic debates is on the cusp of stretching from one night to two.

ABC News, which is hosting the debate in Houston, announced Wednesday that if 10 or fewer candidates qualify, it would be held on a single night, Sept. 12. But if that number ticks up to 11, the debate will take place on Sept. 12 and 13 — mimicking the format of the first two sets of debates, which featured 20 candidates split evenly over two evenings.

With one week left before the deadline to qualify for the third debate, 10 candidates for president have met the thresholds set by the Democratic National Committee, according to an analysis of polling and fund-raising data by The New York Times.

And an 11th candidate may not be far off: Tom Steyer, the former hedge fund investor turned impeachment activist, needs only one more qualifying poll to make the cut; Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii is two polls short; and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York would need 20,000 more donors and three more polls.

To qualify for a spot on the stage in Houston, candidates must have procured donations from at least 130,000 individual donors and earned 2 percent support in at least four qualifying polls.

In a statement, ABC News said that if two nights end up being necessary, the network will hold a selection event on Aug. 29 — the day after the qualification deadline — “to randomly assign the candidates to each night.” The statement did not provide additional details about the process.

The 10 candidates who have already qualified are: former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.; Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey; Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind.; the former housing secretary Julián Castro; Senator Kamala Harris of California; Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota; former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas; Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont; Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts; and the entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

In its statement Wednesday, ABC News said that the anchors George Stephanopoulos and David Muir would moderate, along with the correspondent Linsey Davis and the Univision anchor Jorge Ramos. The debates will be broadcast on ABC and Univision and will be held at Texas Southern University.