OK, so the DNC-criteria have been clarified on what happens, if more than 20 people qualify. This is pretty interesting.
So, currently 18 candidates qualify, which means going over 20 might be possible.
First on the chopping block are the one that ONLY qualify via the donors. That is currently only Marianne Williamson. If it has to be decided between multiple candidates qualifying only via donors, than the one with more unique donors gets to the debates.
If that is not enough to reduce the field to 20, than candidates qualifying only via polls are endangered. Meeting both qualifiers currently seem pretty safe, which explains why Delaney offers to pay $2 to charity from his own money for each unique donor he gets. Anyways, to decide between them, the average betweeen the three highest polls is used (not the most recent). If that is not enough, than the number of polls count where the candidate reached 1%.
That's rather odd. Why not the more recent polls to begin with? This suggests a candidate could have entered really early, got a jump on some poll numbers but have fallen off the radar now but would still be eligible for the debate. In fact, that could push out a candidate that is currently doing better.
Candidate A: Qualifies
Early polls - 8% average on 3 highest polls.
Current polls - 1% average now.
Candidate B: Doesn't qualify.
Early polls - not a candidate yet.
Current polls - 7% average now.
Well, that's why I explicitly said it, that not the most recent are used. Strange, but it is what the DNC decided. And it get's more relevant by the minute, because... tada!!!
Steve Bullock is running and apparently instantly qualifies via the poll criteria, as many past polls already included him. That means 19 have already qualified.
Bennet, Moulton, Messam and Gravel are currently trying to qualify. You have Bill de Blasio with an announcement of an announcement. And I think Stacey Abrams would be able to qualify, if she decides to run. That means six possible candidates might or might not qualify in the future. One more is no problem. With two more qualifying candidates Marianne Williamson is currently out. And also at this point is isn't enough anymore to qualify via donors alone. The third candidate who qualifies now triggers above rules. Currently Kirsten Gillibrand, John Delaney, Jay Inslee, Tim Ryan and Eric Swalwell look like the ones that could be endangered - if they not also meet the donor-requirement and therefore reach safety (for now at least).
I really thought it is too late for so many candidates to still qualify, and I thought 20 seats in the debate would be enough. But now it seems very possible, only one open spot left.