No third-party candidates will be invited to this fall's major debates sponsored by the Utah Debate Commission. The Commission said a candidate needed to reach a 10% threshold in their pre-debate polling to be invited, and none of the independent and third-party candidates reached that mark.
The Republicans that are part of our "Political Insiders" survey agree with that stance, as 51% say only the major-party candidates should be included. Democrats and our readers disagree, as 60% of Democrats and 57% of our readers think the debates should be open to candidates outside of the two major parties.
Selected anonymous comments:
"I work for one of the two major parties and I think this threshold is offensively high."
"10 percent threshold is too high. Make it 3 percent. That would weed out the outright nuts but give citizens a chance to weigh other options."
"I think 10% is a good threshold. Most third-party candidates are clowns, and the last thing we need to add to the political circus are more clowns!"
"I find that different and sometimes unorthodox, or just plain weird, ideas add interest to the usually predictable responses from the two-party candidates."
"The state is dominated by one party. That party has ridden high off of growth the state enjoys. But absolute power corrupts and the check and balance is healthy debate. Let them into the conversation. It can't hurt and could help."
"In Utah, there's a question as to whether the Democratic party qualifies as a major party! In any case, with such a limited number of debates, and a potentially limitless pool of special interest parties, egos, and crackpots out there, a line must be drawn somewhere. Let's start with the 10% threshold, and move it down a little over time if needs be to include legitimate perspectives without turning the debates into a circus."
"Third party candidates can be included. They just just need to work harder to get more name ID."
"If only major-party candidates are included then there is no debate. Everyone knows that there is only one major party in the State of Utah!"
"If you can't get 10%, buzz off. Ridiculous. You obviously haven't done the work 40-50 days before the election if you don't merit 10%. Debates aren't a platform for every idiot who wants to gives his bar diatribe. And let's be honest, if you don't have 10% in a poll by now, you are don't have the skills to win a debate."
"It depends on whether they are viable. A third party candidate who is polling at an insignificant margin is likely not running a campaign and is just depending on the debate to be their campaign. However, a third party candidate who has a large amount of support (double digits) even before the debates should be included."
"If all third-party candidates were included each participant would have five minutes of time. Our local stations would not carry these debates. The Utah debate commission is following the US presidential debate commission, which has a threshold for candidates to participate."
"Why waste everyone's time with the "also ran" candidates? How about if we keep it to the actual candidates instead."
"Didn't you watch the epic Idaho Republican Governor's debate? With third party candidates debate participation Utahn may actually watch. Remember this line, 'I'm about as politically correct as a proverbial turd in a punch bowl.' Pure entertainment."
"Even though third party candidates have no chance of winning in Utah, they can be spoilers and can impact close political races by gathering 1% to 10% of the vote. Mia Love lost by under 800 votes during 2012 and one can argue that third party candidates played a part in that. Their input in the debates can be entertaining to say the least."
"I would be in favor of lowering the threshold from 10% to something lower – part of the reason for having debates is to allow for expression of differing opinions, and the lack of name recognition for third-party candidates (and, in Utah, even for Democrats sometimes!) prevents that from happening."
"A minimum threshold of 10% seems reasonable to me. Really, that's a pretty low bar."
"But are the Democrats any longer a 'major' party in Utah?"
"Third-party candidates will never get to 10% if they are constantly ignored by everyone. We are a multi-party country yet because of the stranglehold by two parties, others simply get ignored. We need more voices not fewer and certainly not just a couple of echo chambers."
"We have enough Republicans trying to pass themselves off as Libertarians that we should include Libertarian candidates where we can."
"Anyone that can't poll above 10% doesn't deserve to be in the debate. Their only purpose is to get 2-4 percent and take the election away from one candidate."