The next stop in the GOP Presidential Debate Tour is Minneapolis, on November 10th. This is the fourth debate for a staggering 12 Presidential hopefuls, with two other candidates not making the cut at all.
Of course, any time you mix Donald Trump and TV cameras, there's going to be a show, and this GOP debate is no different. The Donald is neck and neck with retired surgeon Ben Carson, who has been heavily courting the religious vote with appearances in churches in most battleground states.
Who is Hosting This GOP Debate?
This debate is being moderated by Fox Business News reporters Maria Bartiromo and Neil Cavuto, with the editor-in-chief of the Wall St. Journal, Gerard Baker, rounding out the panel.
How Were Candidates Judged For Inclusion in this Debate?
Fox Business News took the average of four recent major polls to determine which candidates had enough support to be invited. Those four polls were by Fox News, the Wall St. Journal, the Investor's Business Daily, and polling company Quinnipiac (Fox News and the WSJ are both owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.) Any GOP candidate polling greater than 2.5% were given a berth in the main debate, while those polling under 2.5% and greater than 1% were invited to a smaller, earlier debate.
Who Is In The Main Event?
Eight candidates qualified for the main GOP debate by polling at 2.5% or better. The field, ranked by popularity, are:
Donald Trump (25.3%) Ben Carson (24.5%) Marco Rubio (11.8%) Ted Cruz (10.0%) Jeb Bush (5.5%) Carly Fiorina (3.0%) John Kasich (2.8%) Rand Paul (2.5%)
Trump and Carson's standings are within the margin of error of each other, making it a horse race between who is #1 and who is #2. Rubio and Cruz, both Tea Party darlings, make up a second tier, polling at half the popularity of the front-runners. Jeb Bush, the Establishment candidate, falls in the rankings with only 5.5%. The bottom tier for the main debate features three candidates hanging on by their fingernails to keep from being relegated to the "kids table." Carly Fiorina has lost much of the bounce she gained in the first GOP debate, where her performance propelled her from the minor debate to the main event. John Kasich and Rand Paul are struggling to make an impact. Both are right at the cutoff level for inclusion in the main debate.
Who Is On the Undercard?
There are four candidates still running for the Republican presidential nomination that are polling under 2.5%, but more than 1%.
Chris Christie, who was considered a front-runner for the GOP nomination early this year, has seen his popularity drop under the crucial 2.5% level. Joining him in demotion from the main GOP debate to the minor debate is Mike Huckabee. Huckabee has seen some of his evangelical support siphoned away by Carson, and is struggling to gain traction. They will be joined by Bobby Jindal, who was once considered a rising star in the GOP, and Rick Santorum, whose campaign has failed to match the performance of his 2012 run. Both have not made the "Main Event" in any of the debates since the first one, which was an "everyone's invited" debate.
Who Is Left Out?
Lindsay Graham and George Pataki both polled under 1%, and will not be in the Minneapolis GOP debate in any capacity. Graham has been unable to parley a very good fundraising campaign in early primary states into numbers at the polls. Pataki is seen as not far enough to the right by many voters, espousing a science-based outlook for the party that accepts that vaccines work, and man-made climate change is real.
Depending on individual performances Tuesday night, the GOP presidential field may be smaller by Friday. Bush is cutting back on expenses, hoping that Trump and Carson flame out before the primaries. Jindal and Santorum have been unable to distinguish themselves from more popular candidates that share some of the same views as the two, while the libertarian vote has not come through for Paul.
Like so many other things in life, a presidential campaign lives or dies by the amount of money it has. Candidates other than the self-funding billionaire Trump depend on fundraising, which can depend on popularity. Popularity depends on getting your message out, which depends on money brought in by fundraising. The sheer number of GOP candidates in the last two Presidential elections has meant that the money has been spread too thin for some to make an impression.