The window to qualify for the second GOP presidential debate is rapidly closing, and it appears that some candidates from the first round may be left out. The qualifications process, which requires candidates to achieve certain polling thresholds, has become more challenging, leaving several contenders at risk of exclusion.
Senator Tim Scott’s Struggle to Meet the New Polling Requirements
Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) is among the candidates who have yet to receive an invitation to the second debate. He recently sent a letter to the Republican National Committee (RNC) calling for reforms to the qualifications process. The current requirements mandate that candidates must achieve three percent in two national polls or one national poll and two state-level polls. This is an increase from the one percent threshold required for the first debate.
Despite his efforts, Senator Scott is currently polling at an average of 2.5 percent in national polls, according to Five Thirty Eight. His letter to the RNC specifically requests the elimination of national polls from the qualifications criteria. Scott is banking on his likability and an uplifting message to resonate with voters, but the stricter polling requirements may pose a significant challenge to his campaign.
Former Governor Chris Christie’s Narrow Chance at Qualifying
Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie is facing a perilous shot at qualifying for the second debate. Like Senator Scott, Christie sits just above the three percent threshold, with an average of 3.5 percent in national polls. The debate is seen as a critical opportunity for also-ran presidential contenders to gain visibility and momentum in a crowded field, especially in the shadow of former President Donald Trump’s popularity.
As the frontrunner, Trump has consistently garnered as much as 60 percent of likely GOP voters in some polls. Based on the current polling requirements, Trump, Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, Mike Pence, and Nikki Haley appear to qualify for the second debate. However, candidates like Christie, who are hovering just above the threshold, face an uncertain path to inclusion.
The Impact of Non-Qualification on Candidates’ Campaigns
Failing to qualify for the second debate can have significant repercussions for a candidate’s campaign. Debates serve as a platform for candidates to present their ideas, distinguish themselves from their competitors, and appeal to voters. Missing out on this opportunity can make it challenging to gain traction and build momentum in a crowded field.
Moreover, debates are often a turning point for lesser-known candidates who are trying to break through and establish themselves as viable contenders. Without the exposure and visibility that debates provide, these candidates may struggle to gain the attention and support necessary to sustain their campaigns.
The GOP Candidates Who Will Likely Miss the Cut
While the final list of participants for the second debate has not been announced, there are indications that several candidates will not make the cut. Will Hurd, Asa Hutchinson, and Doug Burgum, who are all polling beneath one percent, are unlikely to receive invitations. Burgum, in particular, made a shocking appearance in the first debate after breaking his leg in a basketball game the previous night. Despite spending $30 million from his own fortune, Burgum has only managed to garner 0.3 percent in national polls.
It is worth noting that the requirements for the GOP’s third debate may be even more stringent, although no details have been released yet. The RNC is reportedly considering holding the next event in Alabama, a state that heavily favors President Trump. The hope is to entice Trump into participating, as he famously skipped the first debate and instead appeared for an interview with Tucker Carlson that outpaced the debate’s viewership on Fox News.