Could the criteria for the next GOP presidential debate result in a few GOP contenders dropping out of the race? Hopefully yes.
In a commentary published by the Fox News website, media analyst Howard Kurtz writes the following.
Could CNBC knock several presidential candidates out of the race?
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That sounds apocalyptic, but the network’s threshold for its debate this month is likely to be very bad news for one or more candidates.
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In announcing that a contender must average 3 percent support in polls by six major television organizations between Sept. 17 and Oct. 21, CNBC is making a sharp break with the approach followed by Fox and CNN. They both said the top 10 candidates in an average of national polls would make the main debate (though CNN bent the rules to allow Carly Fiorina an 11th spot at the Reagan Library).
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That means, depending on fluctuations in the next few polls, that Rand Paul, Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee could fail to make the cut.
A winnowing of the debate participants would be helpful, considering what happened during the last two prime-time GOP debates. A crowded debate stage results in at least one of two things. Either the participants aren’t given enough time to explain themselves, or the debate takes too long.
Regarding CNBC’s limit on who can participate in the upcoming debate, Kurtz writes, “This arbitrary limit feels to me like a deliberate effort to reduce the number of debaters and create a better television show. Which might be more fun, but not quite fair.”
Whoever told Howard Kurtz that life is supposed to be fair lied to him. Besides, what is fair is determined by the one who makes the rules, and in this case, the rules are made by CNBC, not by Kurtz.
Also, the limit of ten that Fox News used for the first prime-time debate was just as arbitrary and “a deliberate effort to reduce the number of debaters and create a better television show”.
The polling criterion that CNBC is using isn’t a bad thing. It forces low-polling candidates to improve their game if they want the free publicity that debate participation gives them.