Andrew Yang is urging the Democratic National Committee to take an unorthodox step in its debate oversight process: commission more polling over the next several days.
In a letter sent to DNC Chairman Tom Perez on Dec. 21, obtained by The Daily Beast, the Democratic contender calls for the DNC to commission four early-state polls before Jan. 10 as part of an effort to encourage more diversity on the debate stage in Iowa.
“With the upcoming holidays and meager number of polls currently out in the field, a diverse set of candidates might be absent from the stage in Des Moines for reasons out of anyone’s control,” Yang wrote. “This is a troubling prospect for our party. Regardless of the DNC’s best intentions, voters would cry foul and could even make unfounded claims of bias and prejudice.”
Yang, who qualified for the first six debates but has yet to reach the polling threshold for the seventh, was the only candidate of color on stage at the recent Los Angeles event.
So far, the five candidates who have qualified for the CNN-hosted Jan. 14 event at Drake University—former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg—are all white.
Yang has met the individual donor requirement and one qualifying poll, but has three left before he can clear the criteria, and believes commissioning more qualifying polls would be a “simple solution.”
Yang, an entrepreneur who’s had flashes of momentum throughout the Democatic primary in some early states, contends the biggest barrier to allowing “a diverse set of candidates” to debate at the next event is the lack of recent qualifying polls that meet the committee’s specifications.
It’s been over a month since a poll in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, or South Carolina has been taken, the letter contends, which would not take into account any potential polling bumps from candidates’ recent performances at the sixth debate earlier this month.
“As you know, big shifts can happen within short periods in this race, as we’ve already witnessed multiple times,” Yang wrote.
More polls, “would provide an accurate snapshot of the current state of the race and where voters’ hearts and minds are, thus getting ahead of an imminent problem,” he wrote.
A DNC official pointed to 26 total qualifying polls for the December debate. For the January event, the qualifying window was one week longer, in part to account for holidays, the official said.
“The DNC has been more than inclusive throughout this entire process with an expansive list of qualifying polls, including 26 polls for the December debate, more than half of which were state polls,” the official told The Daily Beast. “The DNC will not sponsor its own debate-qualifying polls of presidential candidates during a primary. This would break with the long standing practice of both parties using independent polling for debate qualification, and it would be an inappropriate use of DNC resources that should be directed at beating Donald Trump.”
The correspondence is the first time Yang has written Perez. A senior campaign official said the team has not heard back from the chairman directly, but did receive an acknowledgement that it was received from DNC staff.
“Andrew Yang has managed to create a broad coalition for the future of our country and we, as a party, need to keep bringing more people into the fold instead of trying to keep people out of the political process,” a senior Yang campaign official said, noting that the team now has nearly 400,000 donors and 1 million contributions, figures first shared with The Daily Beast. Yang’s campaign expects to raise at least $12.5 million in the fourth quarter, 25 percent more money than in the previous one, his campaign said.