Next Democratic Debate Likely To Be Joe Biden-Bernie Sanders Matchup Under New Qualification Rules

Most of the participants in tonight's CNN hosted event won't make it to the next stage, neither will viewers at this rate Shutterstock

When CNN and Univision host the next Democratic presidential debate, it is likely to be a matchup of the two last remaining major candidates, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.

That’s because the Democratic National Committee on Friday released new qualification criteria for the next debate, set for March 15 in Phoenix. It requires that participants have at least 20% of all of the pledged delegates awarded from primaries and caucuses up to that point.

Tulsi Gabbard, the only other candidate remaining in the race, does not meet that criteria. She so far has only two delegates from American Samoa, which held its caucuses Tuesday.

Jake Tapper, Dana Bash and Jorge Ramos will moderate the next debate at Arizona Federal Theatre. It will be held in advance of the March 17 primaries in Illinois, Florida and Ohio. The debate is sanctioned by CHC Bold and the DNC.

The last debate, held in Charleston, SC, in advance of the South Carolina primary, featured seven candidates on the debate stage. Five have since dropped out including Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Michael Bloomberg, Elizabeth Warren and Tom Steyer.

The DNC has gradually been raising the bar for debate qualification, even as candidates have complained as the field narrowed. Gabbard last qualified for the November 20 debate.

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