The Slatest

Fox Jiggers GOP Debate Qualification Formula, Putting New Candidates in Danger of Relegation

The Republican Presidential Debate sponsored by Fox Business and the Wall Street Journal at the Milwaukee Theatre November 10, 2015 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Fox Business Network announced on Tuesday a tweaked debate selection formula for its next televised throw down to be held on Jan. 14th in Charleston, South Carolina. In November, the network stuck to the Fox News-established threshold for inclusion in the main debate at a 2.5 percent average in the previous four national polls, which ushered previous title fight mainstays Gov. Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee to the undercard. Now the Fox network is tightening the requirements for the primetime debate to the top six candidates in national polls with two caveats—candidate’s polling in the top five in Iowa or New Hampshire are eligible for the main draw, even if their national numbers rank outside the top six. In order to participate in the undercard, candidates have to poll at at least one percent in the five most recent national polls.

What does that mean for the field? Politico crunches the numbers using the if-the-debates-were-held-today caveat:

[A]ccording to POLITICO calculations based on only the national polling available as of Tuesday, the primetime debate stage would include Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Marco Rubio, Dr. Ben Carson, former Gov. Jeb Bush and Gov. Chris Christie. The early state polling wouldn’t change the lineup as of Tuesday, according to POLITICO calculations of Iowa and New Hampshire polls… According to polling released as of Tuesday, the undercard debate stage would include Sen. Rand Paul, Gov. John Kasich, Carly Fiorina, former Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Sen. Rick Santorum, and former Gov. George Pataki.

That’s obviously bad news for Rand Paul and Carly Fiorina, both of whom would slide into the earlier time slot if the debates were held today. They are, of course, not being held today and Fox Business Network’s cutoff for polling included in the qualification formula is Jan. 11. Both candidates better start pounding the pavement and knocking on doors in Iowa and New Hampshire. Fox News will hold another GOP debate on Jan. 28 in Des Moines that will likely be the last before the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1.