Presidential Primary Coverage

By Debbie Wuthnow

Presidential Primary Candidate Coverage

When you look at the personalized ballot for your zip code, you may wonder why the candidates we covered aren’t necessarily the ones you see when you go to your polling location. It’s a great question, and iVoterGuide gives you complete transparency on why we do what we do.

Unfortunately, transparency doesn’t always mean clarity. (Smile.) The process is so complicated that even our most seasoned researchers have to do a double take.

First, let’s look at the Republican Presidential Primary. You may be surprised to learn that by January 13, 2020, 154 Republicans have filed for the seat. In some states, you’ll definitely be seeing some of those names on your ballot, so why isn’t iVoterGuide covering them in the Primary Elections?

Great question. At the time of publication, only one candidate has the possibility of winning in all 50 states. How do we know? Five states – Kansas, Alaska, South Carolina, Arizona, and Nevada have completely cancelled their Presidential primaries/caucuses to throw their support behind President Donald Trump and save taxpayer money in what they view would be an unnecessary primary.

The Republican side therefore has what is called a “presumptive nominee,” but what about the Democrats?

To give you an idea of how difficult it is to decide who to cover out of the 306 Democrats who filed for President across all 50 states, let’s first take a look at how the Democratic National Committee (DNC) handles the vetting for debate participation. They have a two-pronged approach.

  • In November, candidates had to achieve the following in order to participate in the debate: poll 3% or more in at least four DNC-approved polls of Democratic voters nationally (or at least 5% in two polls of the early-voting states) and donations from 165,000 separate donors -- including a minimum of 600 donors each in at least 20 states or territories.
  • In December, in order to qualify for the debate, candidates needed to receive 4% in at least four national or early state polls that meet the DNC's criteria or 6% in two early state polls released between October 16 and December 12. Candidates also had to have received donations from at least 200,000 unique donors, with a minimum of 800 from at least 20 different states by December 12.

The practices for the debates greatly influenced iVoterGuide’s decision on which candidates to evaluate. We decided that to educate more voters, we would have a lower threshold than the DNC and would cover candidates who had reached EITHER threshold (polling or fundraising) in December. The decision allows us to look at candidates who have either raised sufficient funds to continue in the race or have sufficient polling numbers to show voter interest.

So, what should you expect for November? As always, iVoterGuide will be bringing you resources covering both the Republican and Democratic nominee, and whoever wins the Democratic primary, you can be sure of one thing – you’ll want to be able to clearly understand and articulate the difference between the candidates.

So, fasten your seatbelt and get ready to learn the facts, because we’re in for a wild ride in 2020!

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