Washington, D.C. (September 18, 2020) – The nonpartisan, non-profit Commission on Presidential Debates (“CPD”) announced today that it has applied its Nonpartisan Candidate Selection Criteria for 2020 General Election Debate participation to determine eligibility to participate in the presidential debate to take place at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, OH on September 29 and the vice presidential debate to take place on October 7 at The University of Utah in Salt Lake City, UT.
Pursuant to the criteria, which were publicly announced on October 11, 2019, those candidates qualify for debate participation who: (1) are constitutionally eligible to hold the office of President of the United States; (2) have achieved ballot access in a sufficient number of states to win a theoretical Electoral College majority in the general election; and (3) have demonstrated a level of support of at least 15 percent of the national electorate, as determined by five selected national public opinion polling organizations, using the average of those organizations’ most recent publicly-reported results.
With respect to the third criterion, on August 28, 2020, CPD announced the five polls it would rely upon, which were selected with the professional advice of Dr. Frank Newport, Senior Scientist for Gallup. The polls were selected based on: the reliable frequency of polling and sample size used by the polling organization; the soundness of the survey methodology employed by the polling organization; and the longevity and reputation of the polling organization. The five selected polls are: ABC/Washington Post; CNN; Fox News; NBC/Wall Street Journal; and NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist.
The Board of Directors of the CPD convened today to apply the criteria. Based on the criteria, the following candidates qualify for participation in the September 29 presidential debate: President Donald J. Trump and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Accordingly, their respective running mates, Vice President Michael R. Pence and Senator Kamala D. Harris, qualify to participate in the October 7 vice presidential debate. No other candidates satisfied the criteria for inclusion in the September 29 and October 7 debates. The criteria will be reapplied to all candidates in advance of the second and third presidential debates.
The CPD has successfully sponsored the presidential and vice presidential general election debates since 1988. The CPD’s planning for the 2020 debates has extended over a period of years and has drawn upon the CPD’s now-extensive experience in sponsoring general election debates. CPD previously announced the four journalists who will moderate those debates: Chris Wallace, Susan Page, Steve Scully, and Kristen Welker.
The candidates who have qualified to participate today previously have committed to participate in the debates sponsored by the CPD.