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DNC raises qualification threshold for November debate

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By Alex Seitz-Wald and Ben Kamisar  with NBC News Politics
Image: US-VOTE-2020-DEMOCRATS-DEBATE-POLITICS
Democratic presidential hopefuls Senator of Minnesota Amy Klobuchar, Senator of New Jersey Cory Booker, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, Senator of Vermont Bernie Sanders, Former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator of Massachusetts Elizabeth Wa   -   Copyright  Frederic J. Brown AFP - Getty Images

WASHINGTON ⁠— The Democratic National Committee is raising the qualification threshold for the November presidential debate, but the jump is less steep than previous increases.

To qualify, candidates will need to hit 3 percent support in at least four early state or national polls that meet the DNC's methodological requirements, up from 2 percent for the September and October debates.

The number of unique online donors needed to qualify will climb to 165,000, up from 130,000 for the previous two debates.

That's smaller than the jump from the debates this summer to the early fall, when the polling and donor thresholds doubled.

Candidates will once again need to hit both the polling and grassroots donor threshold.

But there will be a new option for candidates to meet the polling threshold: They can now check that box by getting at least 5 percent in two polls of early states ⁠— Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina ⁠— instead of 3 percent in four polls.

According to an NBC News analysis, 11 candidates appear to have qualified so far for theOctober debate in Ohio using the previous threshold: Former Vice President Joe Biden; Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren; Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders; California Sen. Kamala Harris; South Bend, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind.; New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker; Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar; former Housing Secretary Julián Castro; former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke; entrepreneur Andrew Yang; and billionaire Tom Steyer.

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard needs just one more poll to qualify.

With 11 or 12 candidates on stage, the October debate could go back to be two nights, after the last debate shrunk to just one when only ten candidates had qualified. The debate, hosted by CNN and the New York Times, is scheduled for Oct. 15 and potentially 16.

The dates, location and media sponsors for the November debate have yet to be announced.