An unheard-of 2020 candidate may have qualified for the Democratic debates because of a fluke poll result

  • Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado was able to meet a requirement to make the stage at the Democratic debates later this month because people that don’t know who he is still picked him as their first choice in a CNN poll.
  • To qualify for the first Democratic primary debates on June 26 and June 27, candidates must either secure 1% support in three approved polls or obtain 65,000 unique donors from 20 states.
  • By digging deeper through the numbers, CNN political and data analyst Harry Enten figured out that of the 44% of voters who had heard of Bennet, none listed him as their first choice for the Democratic nominee.
  • But of the 56% of respondents polled who said they hadn’t heard of Bennet, “enough of them chose Bennet in a listed ballot to get him to 1% in our poll overall,” Enten wrote.
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Sen. Michael Bennet Colorado met the polling requirement to make the stage at the Democratic debates later this month because people who don’t know who he is still picked him as their first choice in a CNN poll.

To qualify for the first Democratic primary debates on June 26 and June 27 in Miami, candidates must either secure 1% support in three approved polls or obtain 65,000 unique donors from 20 states.

The Democratic National Committee has said that regardless of how many candidates meet one or both requirements, they will limit the number of candidates who will participate in that first debate to 20.

Bennet, who only entered the 2020 Democratic presidential primary a month ago and has limited name recognition, was the 20th candidate to met at least one or both of the requirements – with a bizarre twist.

The third poll in which Bennet reached 1% was a CNN poll conducted by SRSS released on Tuesday, which surveyed 1,006 American adults between May 28 and May 31.


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Here’s everyone who’s qualified for the first 2020 Democratic presidential debates taking place in Miami later this month

By digging deeper through the numbers, CNN political and data analyst Harry Enten figured out that of the 44% of voters who had heard of Bennet, none listed him as their first choice for the Democratic nominee.

But of the 56% of respondents polled who said they hadn’t heard of Bennet, “enough of them chose Bennet in a listed ballot to get him to 1% in our poll overall,” Enten wrote.

“Maybe they just liked the sound of his name? Or perhaps being listed among the other Democratic candidates in the ballot test triggered something in their memory to remind them who Bennet was? Either way, Bennet is the beneficiary,”he added.

There are currently 24 candidates running for the Democratic presidential nomination, with several candidates whose last names begin with B: former Vice President Joe Biden, Montana Gov.Steve Bullock, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Cory Booker, and Bennet, meaning it’s also theoretically possible that some respondents mistook Bennet for another candidate.

In any case, Bennet is likely to be on the stage for one of the debate nights later this month in Miami, but he and other candidates polling at just 1% may have a more difficult time qualifying for future debates.

Last week, the Democratic National Committee released stricter, updated criteria for the third round of debates in September, requiring candidates to obtain 130,000 individual donors and reach 2% in at least four polls to qualify.

Read more:

Michael Bennet is running for president in 2020. Here’s everything we know about the candidate and how he stacks up against the competition.

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