Fox and CNN lay out rules for GOP Debate Hunger Games

Sixteen have volunteered as tribute. Perhaps only 10 will ever make it into the arena. And, ultimately, only one will emerge alive victorious. Here are the rules. Fox will hold the first debate August 6, and will allow the top 10 candidates in the five most recent national polls, opening the possibility for more than 10 participants if there are ties in polling.

It remains to be seen how many candidates will be included in the Fox News debate under the criteria, which could allow more than 10 participants if some are tied in the polls.

The top 10 contenders in the five most recent national polls are former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, real estate tycoon Donald Trump and former Texas governor Rick Perry, according to a Washington Post analysis.

Reince Priebus has said the party is on board with this method of cutting down the crowd, according to the Post. But let’s say the polling stays as listed above. That leaves a debate stage with Donald Trump on it, but not Gov. Bobby Jindal? Yeesh. Using national polling will also be interesting, as it may not allow for the unexpected surges we see from underdogs in early voting states where they’ve been doing retail work every day. Though I suppose anyone with a chance and a footprint in those states should show up in the top 10. Hmm. It’ll be interesting what kind of scuttlebutt surrounds the polling and Fox’s strategy leading up to the debate if the top 10 is giving you an odd mix a week out. It will also be interesting, as the Washington Post notes, to see if the rules spawn an early round of spending by someone like a Jindal or a Fiorina to break into the field.

CNN will use a different formula for its Sept. 16 debate, which looks like it may allow for more flexibility and a bit more influence from the early states. The debate will feature a literal top tier and lower tier of candidates. The second tier debate runs the risk of being very odd indeed, very entertaining indeed, probably little watched live, and likely viral if it turns out as wacky as it could. I don’t know whether to anticipate it or fear it. But CNN runs less risk of spurning any candidates, which Fox’s format necessarily will.

“The first 10 candidates – ranked from highest to lowest in polling order from an average of all qualifying polls released between July 16 and September 10 who satisfy the criteria requirements … will be invited to participate in ‘Segment B’ of the September 16, 2015 Republican Presidential Primary Debate,” the network states in its candidate criteria. “Candidates who satisfy the criteria and achieve an average of at least 1 percent in three national polls, but are not ranked in the top 10 of polling order will be invited to participate in ‘Segment A’ of the September 16, 2015 Republican Presidential Primary Debate.”

The network also stipulated that “if the number of candidates who qualify for the debate is 14 or fewer, CNN reserves the right to limit the number of participants in ‘Segment B’ to eight candidates. The remaining qualified candidates will be invited to participate in ‘Segment A’ of the debate.”

The Post notes, “The forum, being held at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif., will also required participants to have at least one paid campaign worker in two of the four early voting states.”

Here we go.