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Saturday, October 22, 2016

CNBC has announced the criteria for Republican candidates to be invited to the next round of presidential debates, which will be held on Oct. 28. And now the big question is who exactly will qualify for the main event, and who will get consigned to the undercard — if there even is one.

National polls will be used to determine a candidate’s eligibility and placement on the stage. To be eligible to appear in either segment, a candidate must have at least 1 percent in any one of the methodologically sound and recognized national polls conducted by: NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, CNN and Bloomberg, released between September 17, 2015 and October 21, 2015.

To appear in the 8pm debate a candidate must have an average of 3 percent among these polls. The polls will be averaged and will be rounded up to 3 percent for any candidate with a standing of 2.5 percent or higher. Candidates who average below that will be invited to the 6pm debate.

The previous debates, held by Fox News and CNN, put the top 10 candidates in the main event, with the lower-polling candidates placed into the early debate. (A last-minute rule change added an 11th podium to CNN’s main debate for the surging Carly Fiorina.)

A quick glance at the Real Clear Politics poll average page shows that Rand Paul is in danger of getting demoted to the kids’ table, currently scoring an average of 2.3 percent. Just above him are Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee at 3.0 percent each, and then John Kasich with 3.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the rules create a whole other conundrum for some candidates: It’s unclear whether some of them will even qualify for the 6 p.m. debate, with its own threshold of 1 percent. Bobby Jindal and Rick Santorum are at 0.5 percent each — and would thus need CNBC to round them upwards — followed by George Pataki at 0.3 percent, and Lindsey Graham with 0.2 percent. (And who knows, Jindal and Santorum could end up sinking even lower.)

Just imagine a scenario in which only one candidate, perhaps Rand Paul, nominally qualifies for the undercard debate. It would be like Fight Club, but without anyone else to fight.

Photo: Rand Paul answers a question in Cleveland, Ohio, August 6, 2015. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

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Copyright 2015 The National Memo
  • Dominick Vila

    Having debates with more than 6 candidates is distracting, and counter productive since it deprives the candidates the opportunity to articulate their opinions and vision…if they have any. That may not be a problem, however, when we consider what Dr. Carson said when he was asked what would he do to prepare the nation for the the effects of hurricane Joaquin: “I don’t know”. Well, at least he was honest, which is more than what The Donald does when he tap dances around issues to avoid making himself look more ignorant of relevant issues than he already has.

  • David

    I am sorry, but I don’t believe that Jindal can sink any lower than he is, and suggesting that Santorum could sink lower is quite politically incorrect as it appears it could be a reference to his sanity to me.

  • Bob Eddy

    I don’t think we need to worry about Rad Paul having a solo debate. You could probably pick five people off the street and they would poll above 1%. Typically, the more you get to know a Republican politician, the more there is to dislike.

    • 788eddie

      Obviously, the candidate isn’t going to be Rand Paul; he doesn’t support the policies that the military/industrial complex needs in a candidate.

  • 788eddie

    All of the criteria numbers are arbitrary!

    Why not have the top nine, or the top seven? Why not only those polling above 12 percent in the polls? And who says the polls are the best criteria?

    Do you get the feeling that we’re being played here?

    Remember: “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”

    Who is REALLY deciding who is going to end up on top of the GOP race?