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Sanders redux? DNC accused of treating Tulsi Gabbard unfairly ahead of upcoming Democratic debate

'Rep. Gabbard has exceeded 2% support in 26 national and early state polls...'

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Is the Democratic National Committee unfairly stifling Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), one of the most-Googled Democratic candidates, from participation in the next Democratic primary debate? That's the question some are asking as it appears she will be excluded from the next debate.

"Gabbard Victimized by DNC's Dubious Debate Criteria," a RealClearPolitics headline states.

"How the DNC is unfairly tilting the field against Tulsi Gabbard," a headline in the Washington Examiner says.

At issue is whether or not Gabbard — who, as a member of the Hawaii National Guard, recently returned from a two-week deployment to Indonesia — meets the debate qualifications, which the DNC set to slowly crop the field of candidates. For the upcoming debate, candidates needed to secure donations from 130,000 unique donors and register at least 2 percent of support in four DNC-approved polls.

Gabbard has registered at least 2 percent of support in only two DNC-approved polls, despite generating as much or more support in 26 total reputable polls, her campaign says, some of which are more accurate than the DNC-approved surveys.

"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," the campaign told the Examiner.

In fact, as RCP noted, Gabbard has registered at least 2 percent of support in polls that the most widely circulated newspapers in New Hampshire and South Carolina endorse, an important fact given the early significance those states play in the primary. Yet the DNC, for reasons unknown, does not consider those polls "qualified."

The DNC is no stranger to accusations of bias. In the last election cycle, Democratic Party leaders treated Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) and his grassroots campaign without partiality, as Hillary Clinton was considered the general election front-runner and the unchallengeable Democratic nominee. Indeed, many have since suggested the entire primary was "rigged" in Clinton's favor.

Given the circumstances this time around, with numerous candidates vying to challenge President Donald Trump in a critical election, one assumes the DNC would ensure no impropriety or scandal during the primary process. But as Michael Tracey wrote at RCP, Gabbard will miss the debate — all but ensuring her campaign will end — over "increasingly absurd" debate criteria.

One last thing…
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