More Winnowing-By-Debate?

Here we go again. The inclusion criteria for the October 28 Republican presidential debate hosted by CNBC have been released, and the threshold for the “main event” is again national polling data. But this time there is no top-ten cutoff, but simply a 2.5% average standing requirement in clearly identified polls (by NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, CNN and Bloomberg) released between September 17 and October 21. There will again be a kiddie-table debate just prior to the main event, and you’ll need a 1% average in the same polls to qualify for that.

According to a Politico analysis, If the criteria were implemented right now, ten candidates would qualify for the main event: Trump, Carson, Fiorina, Rubio, Cruz, Bush, Kasich, Huckabee, Christie and Paul. Paul, however, is hanging on by his fingernails, and Christie and Huck are not out of danger, either. For the kiddie table, Jindal and Santorum seem to be locks, with Graham and Pataki in considerable danger of not making the 1% cutoff.

Expect the whining to begin directly if any candidate looks likely to fall below either threshold. But I doubt any of these birds has the kind of pan-GOP pull Carly Fiorina enjoyed as the designated non-piggy Hillary-Slayer that got the rules bent for her prior to the last debate.

CNBC hasn’t said too much about the debate format, other than this:

The debate has been branded as the “Your Money, Your Vote” debate, with a focus on the economy, job growth, taxes, technology, retirement and the health of our national economy. CNBC anchors John Harwood, Carl Quintanilla and Becky Quick will moderate, with Rick Santelli, Sharon Epperson and Jim Cramer asking additional questions.

Yes, that Rick Santelli. If as usual I’m live-blogging the debate, I’ll have to stop typing long enough to hiss at the TV screen every time that self-righteous Tea Father appears.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.