DNC releases requirements that likely set up Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders head-to-head debate

The Democratic National Committee announced the requirements for presidential candidates to appear at the March 15 debate in Phoenix, narrowing the stage to the two frontrunners: former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The DNC said the new pledged delegate threshold that candidates must meet to appear at the 11th debate is 20% of the total awarded so far. This makes it unlikely that Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, the other candidate still left in the race, will make the cut.

As of Friday afternoon, 1,385 total delegates had been awarded, including to some candidates no longer in the race. Biden had 652 delegates, or about 47% of the total awarded, Sanders had 573 delegates, or about 41%, and Gabbard had 2 delegates, less than 1%.

Delegates are still being awarded from some Super Tuesday states, so these amounts may still change. And five states will vote in primaries March 10, where more delegates will be awarded. To win the presidential nomination, a candidate needs to earn a majority of the total delegates, at least 1,991.

Live results:Keep up-to-date on delegate counts and state results

The last debate, held ahead of the South Carolina primary and before Super Tuesday states voted, required participants meet either a delegate or polling threshold. The polling requirement has been dropped.

Phoenix will mark the first time Sanders and Biden could face off alone in the 2020 cycle.  They’ve already had pointed back-and-forths on Twitter since their places as frontrunners were solidified with Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s departure.

Elizabeth Warren exits:Bernie Sanders won’t necessarily get her progressive supporters, experts say

The March 15 debate will be hosted by CNN and Univision in partnership with CHC Bold, the political arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. The moderators will be CNN’s Dana Bash and Jake Tapper and Univision’s Jorge Ramos. Ilia Calderón, also of Univision, will “facilitate audience questions at the event,” a CNN release said.

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