bobby-jindal-ames
Bobby Jindal campaigning in Ames, IA.

CNBC just released their debate criteria today for the debate they are hosting on October 28.

National polls will be used to determine a candidate’s eligibility and placement on the stage. To be eligible to appear in either segment, a candidate must have at least 1% in any one of the methodologically sound and recognized national polls conducted by: NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, CNN and Bloomberg, released between September 17, 2015 and October 21, 2015.

To appear in the 8pm debate a candidate must have an average of 3% among these polls. The polls will be averaged and will be rounded up to 3% for any candidate with a standing of 2.5% or higher. Candidates who average below that will be invited to the 6pm debate.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s campaign sent the following statement from their senior strategist, Curt Anderson, in response.

Three days ago NBC’s Chuck Todd was quoted in a story (in Politico) saying this about the likely criteria for the October 28 Republican Primary debate:

“You can do it a couple different ways. I don’t believe in setting a number. I think maybe you come up with ‘oh are you at 5 percent or more in Iowa or New Hampshire’ you can create a sort of floor, no more 4-percenters get in, no more 3-percenters get in.”

Frankly, that is a pretty logical statement from Chuck Todd in my opinion.  After all, Iowa and New Hampshire are the first places where the actual voters will have a say in the process.

So today of course, on an RNC conference call with campaigns, CNBC announced their criteria for the main debate would NOT include anything about the early states.

Instead, they have opted for 3% nationally, and for the undercard debate 1% nationally.   So much for Iowa and New Hampshire, they don’t matter now apparently.  And so much for the “no more 3-percenters”.

What happened to the notion of measuring candidate progress in the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire?  Did they somehow become irrelevant in the last three days?

What was the RNC’s role in this?  When pressed on that question by one of the campaigns (not Jindal’s) the RNC would only say that these are CNBC’s criteria, and the RNC spokesman refused to answer a follow up question about the RNC’s involvement in setting the criteria.

And don’t forget this, a few days ago the RNC Chairman floated the idea of getting rid of the current early state process in favor of large regional primaries.  Perhaps they long for the idea of a just a national primary which would enable candidates to not have to actually go out and mingle with real voters, making it easier for an establishment candidate who has the most money to simply purchase the nomination with a blizzard of advertising.

The genius of our current process is that it forces candidates to run the gauntlet, it forces candidates to actually meet with voters, it forces candidates to prove over time that they have the dexterity to withstand the rigors of winning a general election.   That should be the true winnowing process.  We do not have a national primary today, so measuring only national polls is absurd and illogical.  Other than that, it makes perfect sense.

Had CNBC used Iowa polling Jindal has an RCP average of 3% and the last poll taken he was at 4%.  New Hampshire polling for Jindal is abysmal however.  It’s unclear if switching to Iowa and New Hampshire-based polls, depending on how they averaged them, would help Jindal get onto the primetime stage.

As polling currently stands Jindal, former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) and U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) would not make it onto the primetime debate stage, and former New York Governor George Pataki and U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) would be excluded altogether.

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