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Yang qualifies for New Hampshire primary debate

By Zach Montellaro
Democratic presidential candidate entrepreneur Andrew Yang thanks supporters after a campaign event Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, in Clinton, Iowa. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Andrew Yang will be back on the debate stage.

After failing to qualify for a debate in Iowa earlier this month, Yang has earned a spot at the next Democratic primary debate, in New Hampshire on Feb. 7.

Yang is the seventh candidate to qualify for the debate — which will be hosted by ABC News, WMUR-TV and Apple News — joining Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer and Elizabeth Warren, according to POLITICO’s tracking of public polling and donor data.

To qualify, candidates need to hit 5 percent in four polls approved by the Democratic National Committee (or 7 percent in two polls in New Hampshire, Nevada or South Carolina) and receive donations from at least 225,000 individuals. Alternatively, candidates can automatically qualify by winning at least one pledged delegate to the Democratic convention out of the Iowa caucuses.

He hit that polling mark in two separate polls released Sunday and has long cleared the donor mark.

In a Washington Post/ABC News national poll conducted by Langer Research, Yang was at 7 percent among Democratic adults and Democratic-leaning independents surveyed. In the poll, Biden was at 28 percent to Sanders’ 24 percent. Warren was at 11 percent, Mike Bloomberg 8 percent and Buttigieg 5 percent, the last candidate at or above that mark.

A second poll released on Sunday got Yang past the polling threshold. In a CNN/University of New Hampshire poll in the Granite State, Sanders was at 25 percent. Biden was at 16 percent, Buttigieg was at 15 percent and Warren was at 12 percent. Klobuchar was at 6 percent and Tulsi Gabbard and Yang were each at 5 percent.

Yang, the entrepreneur who has built a following attracted by his focus on automation and his universal basic income proposal, is the only candidate to qualify for the Feb. 7 debate thus far who did not participate in the January debate. Yang did not clear the polling threshold for that debate, but his campaign argued that he would have if more polls had been conducted.

The Feb. 7 debate — the eighth in a series of 12 planned debates — is sandwiched between the Iowa caucuses four days earlier, and the New Hampshire primary four days later.

Other candidates remain on the outside looking in. Gabbard, the congresswoman from Hawaii, has not publicly said she’s hit the donor threshold, but was close to it as of early January. She has hit 5 percent in one DNC-approved poll, though she has performed well in non-qualifying polls in New Hampshire recently.

Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, also has easily surpassed the polling threshold but likely will not participate in the debate because he does not accept political contributions, precluding him from participating in the latest debate.

“I hope the DNC changes its rules — I’d gladly participate — but I’m not going to change my principles,” Bloomberg wrote in a CNN op-ed earlier this month.

The qualification window for the debate, which will be held at Saint Anselm College outside Manchester, closes at 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 6.

Two more debates are scheduled for February: Feb. 19 in Las Vegas (three days before the Nevada caucuses) and Feb. 25 in Charleston, S.C. (four days before the state’s primary). Qualification rules have not yet been announced for those debates.

In the ABC News/Washington Post poll, 388 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents were surveyed from Jan. 20 to 23. The results have a margin of error of plus or minus 6 percentage points.

The CNN/UNH poll surveyed 516 likely Democratic primary voters from Jan. 15 to 23. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.