Tomorrow’s Winnowing

Perry: Michael Vadon/Wikimedia Commons
Kasich: Michael Vadon/Wikimedia Commons
Christie: Michael Vadon/Wikimedia Commons

So tomorrow, perhaps after (though perhaps not) the release of one final poll of its own, Fox News is due to announce at long last the list of candidates allowed on-stage for the first official GOP presidential debate of the cycle.

With the release of an NBC/WSJ poll over the weekend and a Monmouth survey today, the betting has now settled on Christie, Kasich and Perry battling for the last two spots on the stage, with Perry the most likely to fall off the edge of the earth. There is, however, some doubt as to whether Fox will round polling numbers to the full percents; if they do, Perry could sneak in as an eleventh candidate with a tie.

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of hope for Santorum, Jindal, Fiorina, Graham, Pataki or Gilmore.

Now the CW has been that candidates would be likely to do or say wacky things before tomorrow, after which, if they didn’t make the cut, they might gear down for a long poorly-covered slog or just drop out. But it’s also possible that also-runs will do and say wacky things at the NH forum tonight and then in the kiddie-table debate Thursday to spin their way into news coverage as the top attraction of the undercard. It’s not entirely clear how the media and more importantly donors and early-state supporters will react to this or that candidate ranking out of the top ten. If it goes the way the wind seems to be blowing right now, three of the candidates angling for Christian Right backing–the Ricks and Bobby Jindal–could drop off the face of the earth, leaving Walker, Huck and Cruz–and maybe Trump–fighting for that constituency. Fiorina is the most likely to survive the cutoff, since just about all Republicans want to see her on the stage to feminize the attacks on Hillary Clinton and to blur their own uniformity; she’ll eventually return to the stage when others drop out.

I have to say, I relish the idea of Bobby Jindal flaming out early. It would be nice to see him condemned to finish out his gubernatorial term even as his rivals are still criss-crossing Iowa.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.