Following a stellar performance in the first Fox News Republican debate during the early broadcast, Carly Fiorina has received a sizable bump in the polls and appeared headed for the main debate stage at the next Republican debate on September 16. However, the rules used by CNN for determining which candidates will make it to the main stage included an average of polls from July 16 to September 10, a time frame that would still keep Fiorina at the earlier “kids table” debate. Following some weeks of outrage from Fiorina and her supporters, CNN has added another layer to their polling rules which will allow for more candidates in the primetime broadcast.

Report from the Washington Post:

The organizers of the next Republican presidential debate have announced changes to debate criteria that mean former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina will almost certainly join the rest of the top-tier candidates on the main stage at the Reagan Library on Sept. 16.

“CNN reevaluated its criteria and decided to add a provision that better reflects the state of the race since the first Republican presidential debate in August,” the network announced. “Now, any candidate who ranks in the top 10 in polling between August 6 and September 10 will be included.”

The CNN move is being greeted as a positive development, and not only for the most obvious reason, which is that a woman will be in the mix, in contrast to the 10-man tableau that a huge national television audience saw at the first debate on Aug. 6 in Cleveland.

Fiorina also had fairness on her side, say supporters. The original rules would have made the cut according to an average of polls conducted between July 16 and Sept. 10. That arithmetic minimized the significant rise in Fiorina’s numbers since she gave what was widely reviewed as the single best performance of the evening in Cleveland, despite being relegated to the earlier, non-prime-time “undercard” debate of longshot contenders.

In total, I think this is a win for everyone aside from the fact that it will likely put more than ten candidates on the stage which will create some very limited time allotments. It was crazy for CNN to include polls from before the first debate since those polls would not factor in the state of the race following the first major event of the 2016 cycle.


  1. If I understand it correctly, they’ll have the ten people from July through September, and then ADD anyone who made a splash after August 6. Why not just make it ONLY those in the top ten during the CURRENT period (August-September)? That way, an early flash-in-the-pan, like Walker, would be otta there.

    • Because CNN claims that they cannot undo the rule they already put in place due to FEC regulations. Not sure whether there is truth to that. Furthermore, then it would appear they were giving favor to one candidate over another since someone would be dropped to give Fiorina a spot. This way no one is dropped.. and yes, there could be 11 or 12 candidates on stage when it shakes out.

      Since they screwed up from the beginning, I think this is the fairest way to move forward. The correct rule from the beginning would have simply been to specify polls which occurred after the first debate. Why they didn’t do that is beyond me.

      • But the criteria were that ONLY the top ten would be in the “adult table” debate. If they want to choose different polls to reference, that doesn’t change the fact that ONLY ten were supposed to be on the stage. If someone goes up, someone else should go down.

        I agree about the polls. RECENT polls, such as major polls two months prior to the scheduled date. Old polls should drop off. And, of course, Fox chose to ignore the most recent poll for their debate. They didn’t like the poll results.

  2. And that is in line with what she said all along isn’t it? So you can’t say she was kissing ass to get into a second debate. She sounds like she’s talking smartly about important issues, why are you threatened by her inclusion?

    • I don’t remember the deleted item, but I can guess. The commenter wasn’t saying that she changed her tune. The criticism was just that she was pandering to a special interest.

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