Dollar Bills
College of Humanities and Social Sciences Politics

Want to be President?

Money talks.

Running for president may seem like a longshot for most American citizens. But what is required to run for president of the United States?

The first debates for the Democratic presidential hopefuls are set for June 26-27. Twenty candidates will take the stage and make their case as to why they are the best candidate. But did you know that there are many more presidential hopefuls actually running for the position? What does it really take to make the stage?

“The key is fundraising,” says David Shock, professor of political science at Kennesaw State University. He says that more than 175 people on the Democratic side have already registered with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) despite many of the candidates having raised very little money yet.

Debit Card

However, once a candidate has raised $5,000 they legally must file with the FEC. While that may be a non-starter for many, money raised helps determine who makes a viable candidate.

So why won’t we see all of them on the debate stage? According to Shock, to be included in the first Democratic debate, candidates must meet a certain threshold: money raised from 65,000 different contributors with a minimum of 200 donors in at least 20 states, or poll at least 1% in three different polls approved by the Democratic National Committee.

“Ultimately, it’s a race to raise funds, especially in the first round of the election cycle.”

David Shock, professor of political science at Kennesaw State University

“Right now, it’s about raising money. If you miss expectations for campaign fundraising for the second quarter of the year, you’re not seen as a legitimate candidate,” Shock says.

Geography matters for candidates in this early fundraising phase, too.

“Raising a lot of money from a small area, say in New York or Silicon Valley, isn’t enough to secure a nomination or even a place in the debate,” Shock says. A broader geographic range of financial support proves a candidate can get votes across state lines.

Ready to throw your hat in the ring? Better make it soon, he advises.

White House

“Anyone who hasn’t entered the race by mid-July is going to have a hard time hitting those fundraising goals in a shorter period of time,” Shock says. Missing those goals will definitely narrow the number of viable candidates, he adds.

While it seems like the discussion of the 2020 presidential election is heating up far ahead of the actual election, Shock points out that the first Democratic primary election will happen in early 2020, only six months after the first Democratic debate.

Convinced you have the fundraising know-how it takes to run for president? Time is running out, but the race is on.

Convinced you have the fundraising know-how it takes to run for president? Time is running out, but the race is on.

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