The DNC announces its new rules for the November debate

First up today, the DNC has finally announced its qualifying rules for the November debate. Now, weirdly, we still don’t know where or when the November debate will be, but, okay, at least now we know the specifics of what candidates need to do in order to be eligible.

First up, the “grassroots fundraising” threshold has gone up again. For the current set of debates, it was set at 130,000 and for November it will go UP to 165,000. That’s a pretty minor increase, given that the last time this number went up, it doubled from 65,000 to 130,000. So, point being, this is actually a pretty minor change. Looking at the data we have right now, lots of candidates have already met this threshold. If you look at folks who already qualified for the September OR October debates—including Gabbard, more on that in a moment—only Senator Cory Booker is below that number. We’re not yet sure precisely where he is, but it’s somewhere above 130 and below 165. Everybody else who’s competitive in the field already meets this threshold. Oh, and one more detail is that each candidate needs 600 unique donors in each of 20 states or territories. That shouldn’t really be a problem given the overall numbers here. Previously, that threshold was 400 and nobody seemed to have a problem achieving that.

Okay, so the next thing is polling. Now candidates need 3% in each of four polls, subject to the same rules as the previous set, with some minor changes to which pollsters the DNC approves. These polls have to be either national or in the four early-voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, or Nevada.

This is an increase from 2%, and this might actually have a real effect. In the previous set of debate polls, several candidates had trouble exceeding 2% results, or at least RELIED on some 2% results as key qualifying factors. Included in that list are Castro, Gabbard, and Steyer. However, three other lower-polling candidates probably won’t have a problem getting in using these rules—those are Klobuchar, O’Rourke, and Yang, who each were able to gain a bunch of 3% or higher results for the current set of debates.

Now, there is also a TWIST in the polling requirement. A new option has been added. If a candidate can get 5% in just TWO “early state” polls, they are in. Early states are defined in that list I just mentioned. One other interesting note is the time period in which these polls have to be released. Reading from the DNC press release:

“Each poll must be publicly released between September 13[th], 2019 and 11:59 P.M. on the date that marks seven days before the date of the November debate.”

And, of course, we don’t know when the November debate will be held. These things tend to be at least halfway through the month, so we don’t yet know whether we’re looking at a six-week window or an eight-week window or what. Given the holidays later in November plus Veterans Day on November 11th, my educated guess is that these November debates will be the week before Thanksgiving, in other words somewhere between November 18th and 22nd. But that IS a guess.

The net effect of these new rules is pretty easy to predict. There is essentially no practical path for a bunch of the previously non-qualified candidates to ever meet these tougher thresholds.

That list includes Bennet, Bullock, Delaney, Messam, Ryan, Sestak, and Williamson. At this point, it’s hard to imagine any of them staying in this race for much longer. The other notable candidate who’s right on the bubble is still Gabbard, and we’ll talk a bit more about her status in just a moment. Even if she hits the October debates, the November debates will also be a tough thing to get. Though if a bunch of other folks drop out, perhaps she can pick up some of THEIR support. Everything I’ve heard from Gabbard is that regardless of how even the October polling works out, she is staying in the race for a long time. Now, as for the rest of the candidates? I don’t know.

Oh, and let me super-clear—these requirements are only for NOVEMBER. Expect the December requirements to be even tougher.

A new Nevada poll gives us some insight

Okay, one fun fact related to the DNC changes we just talked about is that, for a brief moment there, NOBODY was actually qualified for November. That’s simply because there weren’t enough polls released in the relevant time period…until this morning.

A new poll of Nevada by Suffolk/USA Today/the Reno Gazette Journal gave some help to a handful of candidates for the November debate. Specifically, it qualified Biden, Buttigieg, Harris, Sanders, and Warren. In addition, Booker and Yang now have TWO qualifying polls for November, while Klochubar, O’Rourke, and Steyer each have ONE.

As always, the best place for raw data on this is a Google Docs spreadsheet maintained by Politico reporters. It now has THREE tabs—the most recent of course is for November, then you’ve still got October in that second tab, and then the other tab is historical data about the first two debates. There’s a link to that in the show notes, and it lets you see how different candidates fare in each of the qualifying categories. There are also direct links to each poll in case you want to dig into the details.

By the way, this poll ALSO counts toward October, and in it, Gabbard only got 1%, so this did NOT give her the fourth result she was looking for. It DID give Steyer a 3% result, though he was already qualified, but that knocks out an earlier 2% result and he is now up to a DNC polling average of 2.5%.

A new New Hampshire poll gives a little help to Gabbard

Now, in this next item I reveal to you that, indeed, Gabbard has qualified for October. So, yes, I’ve been toying with you this whole time. In a release just minutes before I hit the recording booth, Gabbard got 2% in a new Monmouth poll in New Hampshire. There’s probably more to say about that poll tomorrow—for instance, Warren and Biden are up top at 27 and 25 percent respectively—but we’ll leave that one for tomorrow.

So for y’all who are rooting for either Gabbard to make October, OR for a nice even two-night split in October with six candidates on each night, the layout looks very clear now. Gabbard will be there, along with the newly-added Steyer, and now we wait to see how The Draw places them onstage.

Alaska Republicans cancel their primary

Next up, in what is quickly becoming a trend, Republicans in Alaska have canceled their primary. They technically it the Presidential Preference Poll, and it ain’t happening in 2020. In a statement to the press, The Alaska Republican Party wrote,

“…Conducting a PPP would serve no useful purpose when we have an incumbent Republican president, such as President Trump, running for the Republican nomination for President.”

Now, of course, the field of Republican primary candidates, who are debating TONIGHT, might disagree. More on that debate in a moment, but this gives me a nice opportunity to play this clip from Republican primary candidate Mark Sanford, the former Governor of South Carolina. Here he is in New Hampshire’s Airport Diner talking to Fox News reporter Paul Steinhauser about canceling these primaries. Listen in, and Steinhauser speaks first:


So there you have it. You just never know in the world of politics.

By the way, Alaska is the FIFTH state to cancel its Republican primary. Arizona, Kansas, Nevada, and South Carolina are the other four to cancel Republican primaries or caucuses.

How to watch tonight’s Republican debate

Next up, a reminder that tonight, Business Insider is hosting a Republican primary presidential debate. Sanford will NOT attend, nor will President Trump. But the debate will feature former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld and former Illinois Representative and talk radio host Joe Walsh.

The debate takes place tonight, that’s September 24th, from 7pm to 8:30pm Eastern time. It will be streamed on the Business Insider Today show on Facebook Watch, which, to be super-honest I’ve never even heard of. The other way to watch is just to go to BusinessInsider dot com at the relevant time and tune in.

I don’t know much more about the debate, since Business Insider has not released a whole lot of info. Like, I don’t have a sense of whether there will be time limits or what those might be, or whether audience members are asking questions, or what. The only other info I have is the list of moderators. Reading here from a Business Insider article by Grace Panetta:

“The debate will be moderated by Insider Inc.'s founder and CEO, Henry Blodget; politics editor, Anthony Fisher; and columnist Linette Lopez.”

So again, if you are curious about the Republican primary, this is the first big event of that race, and I sure hope there are highlights tomorrow.

Sanders proposes a wealth tax

Today, Senator Bernie Sanders unveiled a new proposal that’s similar to one of Senator Warren’s key plans. It’s a wealth tax, aimed squarely at billionaires and their assets. While Warren is best known in this cycle for this idea, the Sanders plan goes a bit further, with higher rates and more people affected.

Okay, so what specifically is Sanders proposing? Well, reading from a New York Times article by Thomas Kaplan:

“Mr. Sanders, of Vermont, would create an annual tax that would apply to households with a net worth above $32 million [dollars] — about 180,000 households in total, or about the top 0.1 percent, according to the economists who worked on the plan.
He would create a 1 percent tax on net worth above $32 million [dollars], with increasing marginal rates topping out at 8 percent on net worth over $10 billion [dollars]. For single filers, the brackets would be halved, meaning the tax would kick in at $16 million [dollars].
By contrast, the wealth tax proposed by Ms. Warren, of Massachusetts, would apply to households with a net worth above $50 million [dollars] — an estimated 70,000 households in total.
The structure of her plan is simpler: She would apply a 2 percent tax on net worth from $50 million [dollars] to $1 billion [dollars], and a 3 percent tax on net worth above $1 billion [dollars]. Unlike the Sanders plan, the tax brackets would be the same for married and single filers.”

The Sanders plan is so large, it is projected to raise $4.35 TRILLION DOLLARS over the course of a decade. Just to put that in perspective, the current national debt is roughly $22 trillion dollars, so this extra tax money would be a HUGE amount. By comparison, the Warren plan would raise an estimated $2.6 trillion dollars over the same period. That’s not exactly pocket change either, but, it’s lower.

Reading again from the Times:

““The Sanders plan is really pitched at the idea that we don’t want billionaires and decabillionaires to be billionaires and decabillionaires for as long as they currently are,” [economist Emmanual] Saez said. “It’s going to erode their fortunes much faster than the Warren wealth tax.”
Mr. Sanders included several steps in his plan to enforce the tax, including creating a “national wealth registry,” increasing funding for the Internal Revenue Service and requiring audits of many taxpayers who are subject to the wealth tax, including all billionaires.”

Sanders says he would use the extra revenue to pay for the housing plan he released recently, plus as a partial payment for Medicare for All. It was actually on the list of possible funding sources for Medicare for All when the bill was first introduced.

Meanwhile, there are significant hurdles for both the Sanders and Warren wealth tax proposals. The US Constitution has some things to say about how the federal government may tax citizens, and an asset tax is, honestly, in kind of a gray area. Reading from the 16th Amendment here:

“The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.”

Now, there ARE other bits in the Constitution that suggest a tax on assets is possible. These were originally envisioned in the context of slave-owning states where the “assets” in question were people. So depending on who you ask, that bit of the Constitution might work for this. But in his proposal, Sanders hints that the Supreme Court would likely have to consider this issue. He also says he thinks it’s likely they would agree that it is Constitutional. Well, I know one way to find out.

So basically, you’d need to pass a major new tax law to enable a wealth tax in the first place, and that would AT LEAST have to get through the Senate. So if either of these proposals is gonna happen, Democrats would need control of not just the presidency, but also both houses of Congress. And it’s likely that the Supreme Court would get involved as well.

Today is National Voter Registration Day

Last up today, a short item. Today happens to be National Voter Registration Day. And while I assume that many of you listening to this are registered to vote, this would be a great time to MAKE SURE.

Sometimes these things expire, or if you move you have to update some stuff—just take a minute and check, because, yeah, there might be a local election THIS November that might have real issues for YOU to vote on. Also, if you’ve never voted before and you’re just not sure how to get started, today is the day. It is not hard, you just fill out a simple form and away you go.

Now, while there are many ways to register to vote, I recommend just popping over to Vote dot org, which is a nonprofit that promotes voter registration. On that site, you can fill out THEIR form, which does sign you up for some kind of email and text alerts from them, OR…they have direct links on their site to every state’s official signup form AND every state’s check-your-registration-status form.

As far as I know, none of those state forms sign you up for email or texts or anything—they just sign you up to vote. So if it were me, I’d use that Vote dot org site to help find my local form and then fill that out.

If you’re not into the whole Vote dot org thing, there is a link in the show notes to USA dot gov, which has a ton of voting resources, but the forms are a little harder to find. On the bright side, it does have links to resources like the National Mail Voter Registration Form, which is available in a total of fifteen languages, plus Voter’s Guides in ten languages. So if you’re looking for non-English voting stuff, or things you can do by mail rather than online, USA dot gov is the place to be.

So I just checked my status in Oregon, and, yep, I’m registered to vote and they will be mailing my ballot to my house sometime next month. Oregon is 100% vote-by-mail, and yeah, it’s awesome. Turns out there IS a Special Election on November 5th, 2019 in my district, so I’m gonna vote. Good to know TODAY that I’ve got that taken care of.