Many of us have been wishing for a narrowing of the GOP field, to allow voters to get to know the true frontrunners in greater depth. Just yesterday Sen. Lindsey Graham finally ended his campaign, after perennially low poll numbers. But even with Graham’s departure, 12 candidates remain on the GOP side — with just about six weeks to go until the Iowa caucuses kick the primary season into full swing.
Even if some candidates refuse to step aside, tonight the Fox Business Network announced debate criteria for its January 14th debate — and according to calculations by Politico, only six candidates are likely to qualify for the main stage.
Via The Blaze:
To make the cut, Fox Business said a candidate must place in the top six nationally or place in top five in Iowa or New Hampshire. All polling data would be based on the five most recent polls recognized by Fox News.
To qualify for the undercard debate, a candidate must register at lease one percent in any of the five most recent national polls.
Politico calculated that the debate criteria would shrink the crowded main stage down to only six candidates: businessman Donald Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and N.J. Gov. Chris Christie.
To be honest, I was surprised to see Jeb Bush still making the cut.
For the first time, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Ohio Gov. John Kasich would likely be forced off the main stage, Politico calculated. [Note: Politico also mentioned businesswoman Carly Fiorina as a candidate likely to be moved to the so-called “undercard” debate.) They would likely join former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
The Fox Business debate is set to take place in North Charleston, South Carolina, just two days after President Barack Obama delivers his final State of the Union address.
Oh hey, did y’all catch that little aside — “final State of the Union address” from President Barack Obama? Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
Anyway, back to the main topic, good move by Fox Business to narrow the field. With only six weeks until Iowa, it’s time voters got a chance to go deeper with the truly top-tier candidates. Unlike Democrat voters, for whom the debates appear not to matter (so it is, I suppose, when you already have an anointed one) — and thus can happen in the dark of a holiday Saturday night up against football — GOP voters are engaged and understand the stakes couldn’t be higher around whom we elect to the highest office in 2016.
[Note: This article was written by Michelle Jesse, Associate Editor]