The GOP 2016 field has two less candidates in it. U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) suspended his campaign last week prior to Christmas. Former New York Governor George Pataki dropped out of the race on Monday.
Both men’s poll numbers were abysmal polling at less than one percent nationally, tied for last in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Graham only had a Real Clear Politics average of 1.7% in his own home state of South Carolina.
The loss of these candidates won’t impact poll numbers with an exception of perhaps South Carolina were someone may see a slight bump if there is a candidate that Graham supporters would naturally gravitate to. Where the exit of these two men may impact the race is through their donors provided they decide to give to another candidate.
Their support was non-existent in Iowa and in New Hampshire. Anecdotally I can say that I don’t know know a single person in Iowa supporting Graham or Pataki. I only point that out because I can think of people I know who are supportive of every other candidate in the field. They just were not getting anywhere and their exit will barely be felt with one exception.
The debate stage, the undercard debate stage just got much smaller with only former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum left in the field, but they may soon have company. The next debate is hosted by the Fox Business Network on January 14 in North Charleston, SC. Fox Business Network has set up stricter criteria for qualifying for the primetime debate.
- Place in the top six nationally, based on an average of the five most recent national polls recognized by FOX News or
- Place in the top five in Iowa, based on an average of the five most recent Iowa state polls recognized by FOX News or
- Place in the top five in New Hampshire, based on an average of the five most recent New Hampshire state polls recognized by FOX News.
The two candidates this is most likely to impact are U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and Carly Fiorina. Currently Ohio Governor John Kasich would be able to squeak in because of his New Hampshire polling. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush currently meets the criteria by the skin of his teeth both nationally and in Iowa being 6th and 5th respectively. This is based on Real Clear Politics’ average of national polls, Iowa polls and New Hampshire polls.
So it looks like Donald Trump, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ben Carson, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Bush and Kasich will be on the primetime debate stage. Kasich is at risk of being dropped as well if things change in New Hampshire.
Only Fiorina and Christie have been able to break out of the undercard debate, Fiorina’s inclusion is not helpful for her prospects heading into Iowa. Primetime debate exclusion has had a direct impact on future polling and with it a vicious cycle for some candidates.
Voters, not the media, should be the ones who winnow the field. I continue to be disgusted by the debate criteria that the Republican National Committee has allowed thus far and Fox Business News just doubled down.
Disclaimer: This writer has endorsed U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) for President.