Tag Archives: debates

Poll: Should Third Party Candidates be Allowed in the General Election Debates?

Officials in charge of the Commission on Presidential Debates say that due to the mood of the electorate, they are preparing for the possibility that a third-party candidate will emerge who obtains sufficient support to qualify for the 2016 general election presidential debates.

According to The Washington Post, in an interview that will appear on a Jan. 24 episode of The Open Mind, Commission on Presidential Debates co-chair Michael McCurry reportedly told host Alexander Heffner, “The dynamic in the electorate right now and the dissatisfaction with the two major political parties could…”




O’Malley Says Debates Are ‘Rigged’ For Hillary, Gets Hit With DEATH STARE From DNC Chair

By Christian Datoc  (DC) – Former Gov. Martin O’Malley hammered the Democratic National Committee’s decision to host four — and only four — debates leading up to the primary while speaking at the DNC Summer Meeting Friday

“Four debates and only four debates — we are told, not asked — before voters in our earliest states make their decision,” said O’Malley. “This sort of rigged process has never been attempted before. One debate in Iowa. That’s it. One debate in New Hampshire. That’s all we can afford.”

Over the past month, O’Malley has been critical of the DNC’s apparent, early anointment of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the party’s nominee. On Thursday he said that Democrats were making, “a big mistake… as a party to circle the wagons around the inevitable front-runner,” and it would appear DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is not the biggest fan of O’Malley’s criticism.


Gary Johnson: One Debate Rule is Preventing Real Choice in POTUS Elections

By Glenn Davis IVN – Gary Johnson, former governor of New Mexico and potential 2016 Libertarian presidential candidate, discussed the current lawsuit challenging the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) in an exclusive interview for IVN.

Among the plaintiffs in the suit, which concerns violations by the CPD and the Federal Election Commission, are the Green Party and the Libertarian National Committee. The purpose of the suit is to change the rules that obstruct third party candidates from participating in presidential debates.

The CPD was created by the Democratic and Republican parties “for the express purpose of keeping third party and independent candidates out of debates,” according to the plaintiffs.

Governor Johnson’s Our America Initiative and related project, Fair Debates, are at the forefront of the efforts to reform the debate rules.

A similar suit was filed prior to the 2012 campaign. In his interview, Johnson compared the outcome of that suit and the current action:

[pull_quote_center]“It’s important to note that our 2012 suit was, unavoidably, filed very late in the process. Ironically, we had to be excluded in order to have a claim, and the CPD was very careful to not formally exclude anyone until right before the first debate. That timing issue clearly hurt our case.” – Gary Johnson[/pull_quote_center]

Johnson argues that the CPD has been “very open and, frankly, arrogant in their intent to exclude candidates other than the Republican and the Democrat.” He also claimed the CPD has “gone to extraordinary, documented lengths to ensure that no other nationally-televised debates can ‘compete’ with their own.”

Johnson has a lot at stake. In his 2012 bid for the presidency, he placed third, with under 1.3 million votes. He knows that to stand a real chance at the presidency, the first hurdle is winning the lawsuit.

What outcome constitutes a win? Johnson answered:

[pull_quote_center]“A ‘win’ is very simple. If there are to be nationally-televised debates, they must include all candidates who are constitutionally qualified to serve and who appear on enough states’ ballots to potentially be elected in the Electoral College.” – Gary Johnson[/pull_quote_center]

According to the lawsuit, current CPD rules require “a candidate to poll at 15% in an average of five national polls taken in mid-September.” The plaintiffs argue that this is biased against independent and third party candidates, who do not receive the national attention generated by those running in the Democratic and Republican primaries.

“Simply removing the arbitrary polling requirement eliminates any potential bias and subjectivity from the decision as to who will be on the debate stage. That is the most straightforward and realistic solution,” Johnson explained.

The CPD case cites polling data that shows a “record number of Americans – well over 40% – now identify themselves as independent, and 62% say they would vote for an independent candidate for president in 2016.”

So why should it be so hard to reach the 15% threshold?

[pull_quote_center]“Unfortunately, while a majority of voters clearly are not satisfied with their ‘major party’ choices, they are also vulnerable to the perception, institutionalized by the Republicans and Democrats, that those are their only real choices. The debates are a big part of that perception, and the news media plays along.“ – Gary Johnson[/pull_quote_center]

According to Johnson. research shows that $100 million in spending would be required to match the media coverage automatically granted to the Republican and Democratic candidates.

“In short, reaching 15% without the inherent advantages enjoyed by the ‘major’ parties is virtually impossible,” he contends.

Elaborating further, Johnson stated: “Achieving ballot access in dozens of states is a monumental, expensive process that provides a more-than-adequate and perfectly logical threshold. If a candidate can be elected, he or she should be allowed to participate. There is no need for any polling requirement.”

Other groups have also joined the campaign for more open debates. Yet, public complacency on the issue may be a barrier to building grassroots support for these efforts. Is there enough public awareness and support for efforts to open up debates?

“Not yet,” Johnson said. “It wasn’t enough in 2012 to deter the CPD from its exclusionary ways. Thousands of voices need to become millions, which is why the Our America Initiative’s effort is so crucial.”

To generate these millions of voices requires money – a lot of it – and Johnson does not underestimate the role this will play:

[pull_quote_center]“Timing is obviously important, and frankly, an important element of that timing is funding. The CPD will have unlimited resources from its corporate and special interest supporters, and will use those resources to bury us with motions and other delaying tactics. It is essential that we have the resources to fight back and get a timely resolution.” – Gary Johnson[/pull_quote_center]

“We have a strong case, and when both the court and the public have an opportunity to see the lengths to which the Republicans and Democrats have gone to seize and maintain control over the debate process, we believe we can ultimately prevail,“ Johnson concluded.

Grassroots efforts have a history of overcoming great odds to achieve change. With a little help from the courts, that could become a reality for the 2016 presidential campaign and have a major impact on election dynamics this coming year and in the future.

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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Group Sues FEC to Open Presidential Debates to Independent Candidates

(IVN) – Level the Playing Field (LPF), the group that is trying to improve the health of American democracy by opening up the fall 2016 presidential debates, filed a lawsuit this on Monday in federal district court against the Federal Election Commission. LPF was joined in the historic lawsuit by the Green Party and the Libertarian Party.

The plaintiffs are represented by Alexandra Shapiro, who was Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s law clerk and is now with the Shapiro Arato firm. Ms. Shapiro has won several high-profile cases lately, including an appeals court ruling in April that overturned two insider-trading convictions.

“The CPD is not nonpartisan and instead promotes the candidates of the Democratic and Republican parties while excluding all others from the debates.”

The LPF lawsuit charges that the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) and certain of its directors have violated federal election law, including a Federal Election Commission (FEC) regulation requiring organizations like the CPD to be “nonpartisan” and to use “objective criteria” to determine who can be in their debates.

The federal court complaint cites extensive evidence showing that the CPD is not nonpartisan and instead promotes the candidates of the Democratic and Republican parties while excluding all others from the debates. And since 2000, it has used a criterion that only the Democratic and Republican nominees could reasonably achieve, in order to illegally exclude third-party and independent candidates from the debates.

According to the lawsuit, the failure of the FEC — whose commissioners are members of the Democratic and Republican parties — to act on an administrative complaint against the CPD and a petition for rulemaking was arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and otherwise contrary to law.

We are asking the court to either direct the FEC to find that the CPD and certain of its directors have violated the law, or to permit us to bring a civil action directly against the CPD and those directors. The suit also asks the court to direct the FEC to open a rulemaking proceeding to revise its rules governing presidential debates.

Read the full complaint:

Level the Playing Field, et al. v. FEC