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DNC shoots down Andrew Yang's request for more qualifying polls ahead of January debate

Yang argued that a “diverse set of candidates might be absent from the stage in Des Moines for reasons out of anyone’s control.”
Image: Democratic Presidential hopeful Andrew US entrepreneur Andrew Yang speaks on-stage during the Democratic National Committee's summer meeting in San Francisco
Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang speaks onstage during the Democratic National Committee's summer meeting in San Francisco on Aug. 23, 2019.Josh Edelson / AFP/Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — The Democratic National Committee on Monday rejected a request from presidential candidate Andrew Yang to commission four early state qualifying polls ahead of the next Democratic debate in Iowa on Jan. 14.

Yang made the proposal in a letter dated Dec. 21 to DNC Chairman Tom Perez, which was obtained Monday by NBC News, in which he argued that a "diverse set of candidates might be absent from the stage in Des Moines for reasons out of anyone’s control."

"It has been 38 days since a qualifying poll in Iowa, New Hampshire, or Nevada was taken. As you know, big shifts can happen within short periods in this race, as we’ve already witnessed multiple times," Yang wrote.

Yang then asked for the DNC to commission polls in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina by Jan. 10.

"It would provide an accurate snapshot of the current state of the race and where voters’ hearts and minds are, thus getting ahead of an imminent problem," he said.

The DNC doesn’t typically conduct public polls, though it does conduct private polls for internal purposes, which are not released. In a statement later Monday, the DNC said it would not sponsor additional polls.

"The DNC has been more than inclusive throughout this entire process with an expansive list of qualifying polls, including 26 polls for the December debate, more than half of which were state polls," Deputy Communications Director Adrienne Watson said in a statement. "The DNC will not sponsor its own debate qualifying polls of presidential candidates during a primary. This would break with the long-standing practice of both parties using independent polling for debate qualification, and it would be an inappropriate use of DNC resources that should be directed at beating Donald Trump."

A day before Yang’s letter, the DNC had announced new higher thresholds that candidates needed to reach in order to qualify for the January debate. The new standards require candidates to have 225,000 unique donors, as well as show 5 percent or more support in at least four national or single-state polls in the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. Candidates could also qualify by reaching 7 percent or more support in two single-state polls in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.

Yang is expected to raise at least $12.5 million in the fourth quarter from 1 million contributions and nearly 400,000 donors, according to figures confirmed by the campaign.

All of the candidates who appear to have qualified for the January debate — former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. — are white. The lack of diversity among the top 2020 candidates, already a frequently discussed issue, became more apparent after Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., dropped out of the race earlier this month and Yang was the only nonwhite candidate to appear in the December debate.

Yang's campaign says he's hit the 225,000 donor threshold but has only hit 5 percent in one poll.