The GOP had better get used to a crazy-big field

There’s been a lot of discussion, publicly and behind the scenes, about how to conduct a debate with such a large field. The biggest Republican debate in the 2012 primary season was nine candidates; there were ten GOP candidates in a few 2008 debates. There were eight Democrats in a 2008 debates, and nine in some 2004 showdowns. But no one has ever gotten near the number of GOP candidates today.

It’s generally assumed that a debate field of, say, 15 candidates would be far too large to handle in the traditional format. But organizers might go ahead and do it anyway, because the alternative — cutting some candidates out before anyone has even gotten a chance to speak to the debate audiences — would not sit well with a lot of Republicans. Why not just have a really long debate — there’s no reason it has to be limited to 90 minutes or two hours — and give everyone his or her say?

“If they have any sense, they will start out with debates that are too big and try to winnow them out over the Fall,” says the second operative. “If they start out with too much winnowing, there will be backlash from voters.”…

Maybe that’s true. But the show is important. Should, say, Bobby Jindal — currently polling at 1.3 percent in the RealClearPolitics average, putting him in 13th place — be included in debates? Only if Republicans want to hear from the only candidate who has actually written a plan to replace Obamacare. Should Carly Fiorina — 1 percent, in 14th place — be included? Only if Republicans want to hear from a candidate who has run a Fortune 50 company.