CNN Debate Lottery Reflects New Structure of 2020 Democratic Race

Donald Trump

The real headline news is that progressive Sens.

Before the live drawing, the contenders were grouped into three tiers based on polling to ensure that each stage features a mix of top-scoring and lower-scoring candidates. Bernie Sanders, the two top progressives in the Democratic primary. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., not far behind, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey. That will make for odd optics on Night One and also potentially creates a hard position for Biden, given the exchange over school integration in the first debate.

Here's who will grace the stage: Colorado Sen.

Mayor Bill DeBlasio Sen. Amy Klobuchar; spiritual advisor and author Marianne Williamson; former Maryland Rep. John Delaney; former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper; Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan; and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (who will be the debate's one new face after California Rep. Eric Swalwell dropped out). Cory Booker, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, Minnesota Sen.

More news: Royal Caribbean bypasses San Juan - again - because of ongoing protests

Biden, the former vice president, leads the presidential primary race, with Sen.

The lineups for each night were announced on air during a live, random draw for transparency around the event. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen.

Castro, who was thought to have one of the biggest breakout performances of the first debate, will have another chance to build on those gains, though this time he will not get to use fellow Texan O'Rourke - who will appear a night earlier - as his foil. Biden, Buttigieg, Harris, Sanders and Warren have solidified their place on the stage by attaining both qualifiers. Former Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak, who just jumped in the contest last month, and billionaire executive and activist Tom Steyer, who last week reversed his initial decision to pass on the race, also didn't qualify, given their late announcements. They will be joined by several more moderate candidates who are likely to question the senators' sweeping proposals for single-payer health insurance and tuition-free college, among other plans. But it happened anyway in the first debate in June when all the top-polling candidates except for Warren were drawn for the same night. The debates will also be simulcast on CNN International.

In order to qualify for the third and fourth set of debates in September and October respectively, candidates will now have to achieve 2% in four polls from a slightly changed list of approved pollsters and receive 130,000 unique donors (from the date of their campaign's creation), including 400 unique donors per state in at least 20 USA states.

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