New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand dropped out of the Democratic presidential race yesterday evening after failing to qualify for the third round of primary debates, slated for September 12. Tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang, meanwhile, will be one of ten Democrats on stage in Houston next month.
To qualify for the debate, candidates had to hit 2 percent in at least four public-opinion polls and secure 130,000 unique donors. Among the others not to reach the threshold for September were Colorado senator Michael Bennet, Hawaii representative Tulsi Gabbard, and Montana governor Steve Bullock.
While Yang managed to snag a spot in the lineup, his fellow non-politician Marianne Williamson failed to do so. As of Wednesday, the author and self-help guru still needed to reach 2 percent in three more polls in order to qualify. She already met the donor requirement.
Yang’s star has slowly been rising throughout the primary, going from little support to speak of in April to hovering around 3 percent in most polls this month. Though he had a rocky first debate, he was widely considered to have done well in the second round, standing out from the seasoned politicians on stage with his focus on policy solutions, specifically his universal-basic-income proposal.
His bid is still a long shot, of course, but it’s notable that he has been able to gain enough traction to consistently poll ahead of politicians like New Jersey senator Cory Booker and former congressman Beto O’Rourke — along with making the third debate ahead of sitting Democratic politicians. Perhaps his steady success is a sign that his no-nonsense approach is appealing to Americans sick of politicians’ double-speak, as well as to Democratic voters looking for a somewhat moderate option in a sea of progressive candidates.
As of now, and absent any surprise polling in the next two weeks, Yang will be joined on stage in September by Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Cory Booker, Julián Castro, Amy Klobuchar, and Beto O’Rourke.