Lineup for US Republican TV debate taking shape

Poll averages have John Kasich and Chris Christie make cut but Rick Perry missing out

Ahead of the first US Republican TV debate on Fox, Donald Trump sits atop the polling average - and has in fact widened his lead - with Jeb Bush and Scott Walker behind him. Photograph:  Frederic  J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images.

Ahead of the first US Republican TV debate on Fox, Donald Trump sits atop the polling average - and has in fact widened his lead - with Jeb Bush and Scott Walker behind him. Photograph: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images.

 

For the last several weeks, the likely slate of US Republican candidates for the first televised debate this week has shifted constantly at the cutoff line, based on new polls and issues normally confined to the nerdy world of poll analytics.

Fox News won’t announce which 10 of the 16 candidates will be on stage until after Tuesday’s 5pm deadline (10pm Irish time), but the network released a poll Monday evening that makes the field look much more stable than before.

Donald Trump sits atop the polling average - and has in fact widened his lead - with Jeb Bush and Scott Walker behind him. A handful of other candidates - Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul - occupy a third tier, with a small amount of support but probably enough to make the cutoff.

At the moment, there is reason to believe that John Kasich and Chris Christie will be in the debate, while Rick Perry, former Texas governor, will not.

Fox News - which is televising the debate and setting the rules - has said the 10 candidates who have fared best in an average of the last five polls released before 5pm Tuesday will be admitted to the debate.

On Monday afternoon, Mr Perry was on the cusp of making the debate, arguably tied with Mr Christie and Mr Kasich. By Monday evening, he was not. That is because the poll released by Fox was a bad one for Mr Perry. He was favoured by just 1 per cent of respondents, while Mr Kasich and Mr Christie both received 3 per cent. That may not sound like a large difference, but it was enough to push Mr Perry more solidly into 11th place.

Poll averages

Before the latest poll, Mr Perry may have had hope of making the debate, depending on how Fox’s debate organisers decided to round the poll averages. If they had rounded to the nearest whole number, Mr Perry, Mr Christie and Mr Kasich would have been tied at 3 per cent each. (Fox has said that in the case of ties, it may allow more than 10 candidates on stage, but it has offered few details on how it would interpret ties.)

Monday’s poll means even a generous interpretation of decimal rounding would not be enough to keep Mr Perry in the debate. At least two more polls are expected to come out Tuesday - one from Bloomberg and another from CBS News - which will affect the final averages. Those polls could shake up the debate again, but the candidates who are currently out of the top 10 would have to register unusually well.

If only two more polls go into Fox’s calculations, Mr Perry, for example, would need to beat Mr Kasich by a combined 3 percentage points to make it into the top 10. He has not done that since mid-June, before Mr Kasich even announced his candidacy.

New York Times