Which GOP Candidates Will Make It into Fox News’ Primetime Debate?


One week from tonight, Fox News will host the first Republican presidential debate of the 2016 election from Cleveland, Ohio. As Fox’s Executive Vice President Michael Clemente confirmed earlier this week, all 16 GOP candidates will have the opportunity to participate in some way during Fox’s debate coverage, but only the top 10 finishers in an average of the five most recent national polls will appear on the main stage during the primetime debate.

Fox will not announce who those 10 candidates will be until this coming Tuesday, August 4. But we already have a fairly good idea of which contenders will make the cut.

With his commanding lead over the rest of the field in recent polls, Donald Trump will likely be the most prominent presence on the debate stage, with the rest of the field eagerly jockeying to steal some of his thunder. Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and Marco Rubio are locks as well, each consistently placing in the top five in national surveys.

After that, most major polls have Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz hovering in the middle of the pack, averaging in the 5-7% range.

That leaves two more spots; and this is where things get competitive. An analysis by The Washington Post gives the bottom two positions to Chris Christie and John Kasich, relegating Rick Perry to the 5 p.m. ET forum on Fox hosted by Bill Hemmer and Martha MacCallum, as depicted in the graphic below:

However, in Politico’s analysis, it is Perry who makes the cut with Kasich (who happens to be the governor of the state where the debate will take place) left on the sidelines.

Carly Fiorina, George Pataki and Lindsey Graham are all currently polling below 1%, which was the original cutoff to participate in Fox’s pregame show. But the network ultimately decided to take pity on them and said they could join the fun as well. As one of the main debate’s moderators Bret Baier told Sean Hannity Tuesday night, “All of the candidates will be there in Cleveland, we expect.”

With Christie, Kasich, and Perry all averaging in the 2-3% range with one week to go, a particularly strong or weak performance in any new poll between now in Tuesday could result in any one of them failing to make the cut for the 9 p.m. ET showdown.

Kasich, who is the least well-known of the three on a national level probably has the most to gain from an appearance in the main debate. Perry, on the other hand, definitely has the most to lose.

[Photo via Twitter]

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