The GOP’s 2016 Debate Problem

There are at least 17 legitimate candidates for the GOP nomination in 2016. The Republican Party is struggling to figure out how to fit all of them on a debate stage.

Usually, debate organizers try to use a polling threshold to determine who gets on the stage during a debate, but with that many candidates that may not be workable. So, the GOP is also considering using a fundraising metric to determine who gets invited to the first debate in Cleveland in August.

Time's Zeke Miller reports:


“This is truly historic in that normally you are trying to get people into the debates and now you are trying to whittle people out of the debates,” said one Republican operative familiar with the debate process. “You’ve never had more than ten candidates in either party on a debate stage. You could get to at least 16 to 17 candidates and make a legitimate case for them being there—easy.”

For some candidates, the problem may be even more fundamental than the debate stage. They need to make sure they are included in polling, first. In an NBC/Wall Street Journal survey released Monday, the roster of candidates did not include Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.