GOP debate: Who is in, who is out – CNNPolitics.com

GOP debate: Who is in, who is out – CNNPolitics.com

Washington (CNN)Four weeks from Thursday night, a group of at least 10 Republican candidates for president will take the debate stage in Cleveland, Ohio, with polling playing a major role in determining which candidates out of the ever-expanding field get to be behind a podium — and which will be watching from home.

Fox News, which is co-sponsoring the debate with Facebook, has said that those on the stage must “place in the top 10 of an average of the five most recent national polls, as recognized by FOX News leading up to August 4th at 5 PM/ET. Such polling must be conducted by major, nationally recognized organizations that use standard methodological techniques.”

That description, as pollsters will tell you, isn’t quite as easy to interpret as it seems.

Taking it at its most literal, the most recent five polls include the CNN/ORC poll conducted June 26-28, the Fox News poll conducted June 21-23, the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll conducted June 14-18, the Monmouth University poll conducted June 11-14 and another Fox News poll conducted May 31-June 2. All of these are telephone polls conducted by live interviewers, dialing random samples of adults reached on both cellphones and landline telephones.

Although Fox News hasn’t specified how they define a standard polling methodology, this almost certainly meets that standard.

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If those five polls are included, using results among registered voters — rather than adults where applicable — and assuming the entire field meets Fox’s other criteria for appearing on stage by filing with the Federal Election Commission and paying the appropriate filing fees, the 10 on stage would be: former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, businessman Donald Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Left on the outside looking in are former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former CEO Carly Fiorina, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former New York Gov. George Pataki and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, who hasn’t been tested in any national polling this cycle.

Looking at how these averages could vary depending on how Fox defines its criteria, the only candidate in that outside group who seems to stand a chance of getting inside is Santorum, and then only by tying for 10th.

If Monmouth University’s polling is not considered major, then the average would roll in the CNN/ORC poll from May 29-31. That wouldn’t change who winds up on the stage, though there is a bit of shifting in the order of finish.

One change that could have a greater impact would be dropping the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll due to the unconventional question wording used to gauge Republicans’ preferences for the nomination. In their June survey, the pollsters asked those who said they would vote in the Republican primary if they could see themselves supporting each of 16 candidates.

Rather than repeating that list of 16 candidates in their horse race question, they followed those individual questions by asking, “If the next Republican primary for president were being held today, which one of the following candidates would you favor: Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, or Ben Carson, or would you vote for one of the other candidates that were mentioned in the previous question?”

Political observers expect New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to yield to Hillary Clinton's run in 2016, fearing there wouldn't be room in the race for two Democrats from the Empire State.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has said his decision to run for the Republican nomination will be based on two things: his family and whether he can lift America's spirit. His father and brother are former Presidents.
Potential 2016 presidential candidates 19 photos
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has created a political committee that will help him travel and raise money while he considers a 2016 bid. Additionally, billionaire businessman David Koch said in a private gathering in Manhattan this month that he wants Walker to be the next president, but he doesn't plan to back anyone in the primaries.
Potential 2016 presidential candidates 19 photos
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is establishing a committee to formally explore a White House bid. "If I run, my candidacy will be based on the idea that the American people are ready to try a dramatically different direction," he said in a news release <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/18/politics/bobby-jindal-forms-exploratory-committee/index.html">provided to CNN on Monday, May 18</a>.
Potential 2016 presidential candidates 19 photos
<a href="http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/28/politics/bernie-sanders-2016-election-announcement/index.html">Sen. Bernie Sanders</a>, an independent from Vermont who caucuses with Democrats, has said the United States needs a "political revolution" of working-class Americans looking to take back control of the government from billionaires. He first announced the run in an email to supporters early on the morning of Thursday, April 30.
Potential 2016 presidential candidates 19 photos
On March 2, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson announced the launch of an exploratory committee. The move will allow him to raise money that could eventually be transferred to an official presidential campaign and indicates he is on track with stated plans to formally announce a bid in May.
Potential 2016 presidential candidates 19 photos
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham has said he'll make a decision about a presidential run sometime soon. A potential bid could focus on Graham's foreign policy stance.
Potential 2016 presidential candidates 19 photos
Hillary Clinton launched her presidential bid Sunday, April 12, through a video message on social media. She continues to be considered the overwhelming front-runner among possible 2016 Democratic presidential candidates.
Potential 2016 presidential candidates 19 photos
Sen. Marco Rubio announced his bid for the 2016 presidency on Monday, April 13, a day after Hillary Clinton, with a rally in Florida. He's a Republican rising star from Florida who swept into office in 2010 on the back of tea party fervor. But his support of comprehensive immigration reform, which passed the Senate but has stalled in the House, has led some in his party to sour on his prospects.
Potential 2016 presidential candidates 19 photos
Lincoln Chafee, a Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat former governor and senator of Rhode Island, said he's running for president on Thursday, April 16, as a Democrat, but his spokeswoman said the campaign is still in the presidential exploratory committee stages.
Potential 2016 presidential candidates 19 photos
Jim Webb, the former Democratic senator from Virginia, is entertaining a 2016 presidential run. In January, he told NPR that his party has not focused on white, working-class voters in past elections.
Potential 2016 presidential candidates 19 photos
Vice President Joe Biden has twice before made unsuccessful bids for the Oval Office -- in 1988 and 2008. A former senator  known for his foreign policy and national security expertise, Biden made the rounds on the morning shows recently and said he thinks he'd "make a good President."
Potential 2016 presidential candidates 19 photos
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has started a series of town halls in New Hampshire to test the presidential waters, becoming more comfortable talking about national issues and staking out positions on hot topic debates.
Potential 2016 presidential candidates 19 photos
Rep. Paul Ryan, a former 2012 vice presidential candidate and fiscally conservative budget hawk, says he's keeping his "options open" for a possible presidential run but is not focused on it.
Potential 2016 presidential candidates 19 photos
Sen. Rand Paul officially announced his presidential bid on Tuesday, April 7, at a rally in Louisville, Kentucky. The tea party favorite probably will have to address previous controversies that include comments on civil rights, a plagiarism allegation and his assertion that the top NSA official lied to Congress about surveillance.
Potential 2016 presidential candidates 19 photos
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz announced his 2016 presidential bid on Monday, March 23, in a speech at Liberty University. The first-term Republican and tea party darling is considered a gifted orator and smart politician. He is best known in the Senate for his marathon filibuster over defunding Obamacare.
Potential 2016 presidential candidates 19 photos
Democrat Martin O'Malley, the former Maryland governor, released a "buzzy" political video in November 2013 in tandem with visits to New Hampshire. He also headlined a Democratic Party event in South Carolina, which holds the first Southern primary.
Potential 2016 presidential candidates 19 photos
Republican Rick Perry, the former Texas governor, announced in 2013 that he would not be seeking re-election, leading to speculation that he might mount a second White House bid.
Potential 2016 presidential candidates 19 photos
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, a social conservative, gave Mitt Romney his toughest challenge in the nomination fight last time out and has made trips recently to early voting states, including Iowa and South Carolina.
Potential 2016 presidential candidates 19 photos
Political observers expect New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to yield to Hillary Clinton's run in 2016, fearing there wouldn't be room in the race for two Democrats from the Empire State.
Potential 2016 presidential candidates 19 photos
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has said his decision to run for the Republican nomination will be based on two things: his family and whether he can lift America's spirit. His father and brother are former Presidents.
Potential 2016 presidential candidates 19 photos
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has created a political committee that will help him travel and raise money while he considers a 2016 bid. Additionally, billionaire businessman David Koch said in a private gathering in Manhattan this month that he wants Walker to be the next president, but he doesn't plan to back anyone in the primaries.
Potential 2016 presidential candidates 19 photos
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is establishing a committee to formally explore a White House bid. "If I run, my candidacy will be based on the idea that the American people are ready to try a dramatically different direction," he said in a news release <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/18/politics/bobby-jindal-forms-exploratory-committee/index.html">provided to CNN on Monday, May 18</a>.
Potential 2016 presidential candidates 19 photos
<a href="http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/28/politics/bernie-sanders-2016-election-announcement/index.html">Sen. Bernie Sanders</a>, an independent from Vermont who caucuses with Democrats, has said the United States needs a "political revolution" of working-class Americans looking to take back control of the government from billionaires. He first announced the run in an email to supporters early on the morning of Thursday, April 30.
Potential 2016 presidential candidates 19 photos
On March 2, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson announced the launch of an exploratory committee. The move will allow him to raise money that could eventually be transferred to an official presidential campaign and indicates he is on track with stated plans to formally announce a bid in May.
Potential 2016 presidential candidates 19 photos
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham has said he'll make a decision about a presidential run sometime soon. A potential bid could focus on Graham's foreign policy stance.
Potential 2016 presidential candidates 19 photos
Hillary Clinton launched her presidential bid Sunday, April 12, through a video message on social media. She continues to be considered the overwhelming front-runner among possible 2016 Democratic presidential candidates.
Potential 2016 presidential candidates 19 photos
Sen. Marco Rubio announced his bid for the 2016 presidency on Monday, April 13, a day after Hillary Clinton, with a rally in Florida. He's a Republican rising star from Florida who swept into office in 2010 on the back of tea party fervor. But his support of comprehensive immigration reform, which passed the Senate but has stalled in the House, has led some in his party to sour on his prospects.
Potential 2016 presidential candidates 19 photos
Lincoln Chafee, a Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat former governor and senator of Rhode Island, said he's running for president on Thursday, April 16, as a Democrat, but his spokeswoman said the campaign is still in the presidential exploratory committee stages.
Potential 2016 presidential candidates 19 photos
Jim Webb, the former Democratic senator from Virginia, is entertaining a 2016 presidential run. In January, he told NPR that his party has not focused on white, working-class voters in past elections.
Potential 2016 presidential candidates 19 photos

Their results using this construction showed greater support for some of the nine named candidates than they received in other polls conducted around the same time.

For example, 22% said they would back Bush, compared with 9% in the Monmouth poll conducted just before their poll and 15% in the Fox poll conducted just after. Likewise, Rubio stood at 14% in the NBC/WSJ poll, compared with 9% in Monmouth’s survey and 8% in the Fox poll. And Walker had 17% in their poll, compared with 10% in Monmouth and 9% in Fox.

If that wording structure is different enough to disqualify the generally well-regarded poll from those using “standard methodological techniques” and the CNN/ORC poll from May is included instead, the averages shift fairly dramatically, though again the composition of the debate stage doesn’t change much.

The main change: If the averages are rounded to the nearest whole number, Santorum and Perry are tied for 10th place, meaning both would be on stage, adding up to a total of 11 candidates.

Santorum could also reach the stage as the 11th candidate via a tie if the averages are rounded if both NBC/Wall Street Journal and Monmouth are excluded, with the May CNN/ORC poll and a Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted May 28-31 included instead.

Until Fox releases a more detailed description of which polls meet its standards, it’s impossible to know which group of 10 will stand before the cameras on August 6. But if it were held today, it’s clear that those candidates averaging 2 points or less would be left out.

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