Next GOP Debate Stage Could Shrink

December 23, 2015 by  

Next GOP Debate Stage Could Shrink, As few as six candidates could make the next GOP presidential debate stage in January, as Fox Business Network’s new criteria could drastically shrink the field less than a month before the Iowa caucuses.

Fox Business Network announced three separate avenues to make the main stage, but those pathways are more restricted than in previous debates. Participants in the main stage debate on Jan. 14 must hit the top six in an average of five recent national polls, or top five in an average of recent polls from Iowa or New Hampshire.

The rest will qualify for another undercard debate, provided that they earn at least 1 percent in one of the qualifying polls.

Last month’s CNN debate also relied on early state polling, but set a 4 percent threshold instead. Nine candidates made the network’s main event.

Fox Business Network, as in the past, hasn’t announced which polls it would use. But using current RealClearPolitics averages, Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Ben Carson, former Gov. Jeb Bush (Fla.), and Gov. Chris Christie (N.J.) currently sit in the national top six.

Those six candidates also make up the top five in Iowa in New Hampshire, in a different order. So depending on which polls would qualify, no other candidates would make the main stage as of now.

That would relegate Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), Carly FIorina, and Gov. John Kasich (Ohio) to the undercard debate weeks before the first votes of 2016 are cast. Candidates may get one more shot on Jan. 28, when Fox News hosts a debate just days before the Feb. 1 Iowa caucus.

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