How the DNC is unfairly tilting the field against Tulsi Gabbard

 | August 27, 2019 03:12 PM

After the fiasco that was the 2016 Democratic presidential primary, the Democratic National Committee doesn’t exactly have a reputation for impartiality and fairness. You’d think, then, the DNC would take steps this time around to ensure that its decision-making is transparent and bias-free.

Naturally, they’re doing the opposite.

The most recent issue is the DNC’s qualification criteria for the third Democratic primary debate set for September. The DNC has understandably sought to cut down on the number of candidates granted a place on the debate stage, and they’ve done so by putting in place more stringent qualification requirements. Now, candidates must show four DNC-approved polls placing them at 2% or higher, and they must also receive 130,000 unique donations.

If applied fairly, these standards are reasonable enough. They proved easy hurdles to overcome for the big-name candidates, with Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and the like all long-since qualifying, just as you'd expect. But it’s the borderline candidates who have been harmed the most by arbitrary and potentially biased enforcement of these criteria. Candidates such as Tom Steyer and Marrianne Williamson have suffered, but most clearly disadvantaged by DNC malpractice is Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

Here’s where the bias comes in: The decision as to which polls are “DNC-approved” and which are not. Several of these campaigns have met the polling threshold in more than four reputable polls, just not the ones approved by the DNC, whose criteria for poll approval are unknown and opaque.

This is particularly true for Gabbard. The Gabbard campaign provided a statement to the Washington Examiner:

Rep. Gabbard has exceeded 2% support in 26 national and early state polls, but only two of them are on the DNC’s ‘certified’ list. Many of the uncertified polls, including those conducted by highly reputable organizations such as The Economist and the Boston Globe, are ranked by RealClearPolitics and FiveThirtyEight as more accurate than some DNC ‘certified’ polls.

This is manifestly unjust. And given the DNC’s long history of bias against outsider, anti-establishment candidates, it’s unlikely that this injustice is an accident.

Remember, the DNC basically tilted the 2016 Democratic primary against Sanders, and in favor of the party establishment’s preferred candidate, Hillary Clinton. They gave Clinton debate questions in advance, planned debates for weekends (perhaps to shield Clinton from high viewership), and leaked emails showed numerous examples of anti-Sanders bias from DNC officials.

Plus, the DNC and the Clinton campaign even had a signed agreement giving Clinton’s camp control over party staffing decisions before she was the nominee.

As journalist Michael Tracey wrote for RealClearPolitics, “Tulsi Gabbard is on the verge of being excluded from the next Democratic presidential debate on the basis of criteria that appear increasingly absurd.” If the DNC wants to avoid more allegations of bias, it should step in and make sure Gabbard is granted the debate stage place she clearly deserves.