Add to Technorati Favorites Presidential Politics for America: Who Will Be in the First Republican Debate?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Who Will Be in the First Republican Debate?

Before we reach the top tier of my Republican Candidate Profile countdown, let's pause to get a lay of the land before the party's first debate, which will be held next Thursday, August 6, in Cleveland. (Here is a list of the debates scheduled.) I already wrote about this debate, but that was over a month ago. So much has happened, most notably Donald Trump, a few more entries into the race, some shifts in the polls, and Donald Trump.

As we've known for a while now, only ten of the seventeen candidates will qualify for the debate. As far as determining which ten, they "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," and "such polling must be conducted by major, nationally recognized organizations that use standard methodological techniques."

So the question is--who will make the cut? To answer the question, we must first take a leap of Fox faith--we hope the network won't be too controversial regarding its poll parsing. They have yet to reveal how they'll determine what a "major, nationally recognized organization" is, or what they consider "standard methodological techniques." Pollsters use a variety of techniques (polling likely voters or registered voters, for example). Will Fox say they prefer one or the other? Or both? We don't know yet.

If, however, we assume that they go with Real Clear Politics's list, which has become the standard frame of reference for blowhard pundits like myself, here's what we have:

1. Donald Trump--------18.2
2. Jeb Bush---------------13.4
3. Scott Walker----------12.0
4. Marco Rubio-----------7.0
5. Ben Carson-------------6.4
6. Mike Huckabee--------6.2
7. Rand Paul---------------5.6
8. Ted Cruz----------------5.4
9. Chris Christie-----------2.8
10. John Kasich-----------1.8
11. Rick Perry-------------1.8
12. Carly Fiorina----------1.4
13. Rick Santorum--------1.4
14. Bobby Jindal----------1.2
15. Lindsey Graham------0.0
T16: George Pataki and James Gilmore: Somehow less than 0.0

It's clear that the top eight are locks to be in the debate. It's also clear we can toss the bottom three. Therefore, we have six candidates battling for two spots.

To determine which two of the six are likely debating, our next step is to look at their polling trends. Here's a list of their five most recent polls. The first number is the most recent poll. The fifth number was five polls ago.

9. Chris Christie: 2.8-----3, 3, 3, 3, 2
10. John Kasich: 1.8-----3, 2, 2, 1, 1
11. Rick Perry: 1.8-------1, 4, 1, 1, 2
12. Carly Fiorina: 1.4----4, 0, 1, 1, 1
13. Rick Santorum: 1.4--1, 1, 2, 1, 2
14. Bobby Jindal: 1.2----1, 2, 0, 1, 2

Of that group, Christie looks the most comfortable. He's getting the most consistent support, which is crucial for having an average high enough to qualify for the debates. As every student knows, 0s kill averages. Two of these candidates have 0s, while every other candidate has at least two 1s. Christie looks rock solid by comparison. I think he's in.

That gives us nine candidates in with one to be determined, and five candidates competing for that last spot. Of those five, Santorum and Jindal are clearly in the most danger. Not only are they averaging the worst, but they're also trending down. Here are those two candidates again, but with the list extended to the last seven polls.

13. Rick Santorum: 1.4--1, 1, 2, 1, 2, 3, 3
14. Bobby Jindal: 1.2----1, 2, 0, 1, 2, 2, 2

Clearly, they're going in the wrong direction. That now leaves three for the last spot:

10. John Kasich: 1.8-----3, 2, 2, 1, 1
11. Rick Perry: 1.8-------1, 4, 1, 1, 2
12. Carly Fiorina: 1.4----4, 0, 1, 1, 1

Showing the best trend, Kasich seems to be in the best position. Remember, he declared just five days ago, and he's about to ride that bump. Even the most recent of those five polls--PPP's, which polled from 7/20 to 7/21--only got part of one day in after his July 21 announcement. With this upward trend in national numbers, he might even eclipse Christie for ninth place in the next week or so. (Incidentally, if Kasich does get in, the Ohio governor will have a hometown Cleveland crowd that could launch him to even higher numbers.)

Perry and Fiorina, meanwhile, can hope that their random "4" is a sign of things to come, but in these five polls, both had three times as many 1s as their lonely 4, and Fiorina threw in a goose-egg for bad measure. The 4 looks anomalous against the backdrop of their other numbers. Plus, they announced months ago and have now nearly flat-lined, while Christie and Kasich have had much more recent announcements and are now trending up as a result.

We can't forget that we still have nine days before the August 4 polling deadline. All five of the polls I used for today's calculations will be wiped away and replaced with five new ones. While the numbers say that Perry, Fiorina, Santorum, and Jindal are headed in the wrong direction, stranger things have happened.

That being said, my prediction for the ten debating candidates on August 6: Trump, Bush, Walker, Rubio, Carson, Huckabee, Paul, Cruz, Christie, and Kasich.

See you tomorrow for the third most likely Republican nominee!


Billy Sullivan said...

How critical is it for the party as a whole to appeal to crossover voters that they get Kasich, because of his experience and sensibility, in the debate as opposed to someone like Perry who could prove to be a wildcard on stage.

Also, I'm predicting expect a plethora of polls to come out this week. I would think that all the polling companies want their polls to be used in the 5 for free press. In the past 11 days, there were 4 polls released, could there possibly be 6? Probably all releasing this weekend/next week to try ensure the poll is used. If any poll not to be used, probably PPP, though they are actually an accurate polling company, but being Democratic, Fox may not like it.

IC said...

There are two schools thought, Billy. Bush, Kasich, Christie, and Paul will say the way to winning over moderates is by running a candidate with crossover appeal. Walker, Cruz, Huckabee, and Santorum, however, will argue that the conservative message itself can win over independents, and the party needs a true conservative to best articulate that message. I tend to agree with the first group. Moderates are moderate for a reason.

Totally agreed on the upcoming polling. I'll have to write a sequel to this column in a week or so.

Thanks for the comment!

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