GOP Debate

Rigged? Fox News Debate Criteria Lacks Transparency

Limiting factors for Fox News’ 2016 GOP Presidential candidate debate remain unclear since the network announced that, with such a large Republican field of 2016 Presidential candidates, not every GOP candidate will be allowed to participate in the August 6 debate.

The prime-time televised debate, to be held in Cleveland, Ohio, will include only the top 10 candidates in national polls. The candidates who do not make that cut will be allowed to take part in a non-televised forum earlier in the day.

New Hampshire Republican activists, who are the first in the nation to vote in a 2016 primary, have already expressed their frustration with the fact that Fox will not allow all candidates to participate in the televised debate. The controversy continues to grow with the latest announcement from Fox News.

In order for candidates to qualify for the prime-time stage, Fox News is selecting the top 10 candidates from only five national polls. The polls “must be conducted by major, nationally recognized organizations that use standard methodological techniques,” Fox News officials said in a statement.

So what’s the problem? Not only are more than five national polls, but many polls use a variation of questions and subjects during polling that skew outcomes.

For instance, the Washington Examiner pointed out that “out of five of the latest polls, two of them would put former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, a longshot for the GOP nomination, into the top 10 and access to the debate.

A Fox News poll released on June 24 had Fiorina polling at 3 percent, which was ninth place among the 16 declared or likely Republican presidential candidates. That poll surveyed ‘likely Republican voters.’

Likewise, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll from June 21, which surveyed ‘Republican primary voters’ (but not necessarily likely voters) had her at 2 percent, or 10th place among the candidates.

Both the Fox and NBC/Wall Street Journal poll are favorable for Fiorina, whose campaign would likely benefit from the free exposure and legitimacy a nationally-televised primetime debate provides. But in other polls, Fiorina does not have the advantage.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll released June 3 showed Fiorina polling in 12th place, thus disqualifying her from the debate stage. That one included independent voters who are ‘Republican-leaning.'”

If Fox News were to use the Real Clear Politics (RCP) average of five polls, the polls used would be CNN/ORC, FOX NEWS, NBC/WSJ, Monmouth and ABC/Wash Post. While Fox News regularly cities the RCP average of polls on shows like Special Report with Bret Baier, the news network nor Michael Clemente, the network’s executive vice president of news and editorial, has clearly defined which polls are being used to make the determination.

If Fox were to use the RCP average of polls, the 10 candidates to make the prime-time debate as of this writing would be Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie and Rick Perry.

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