Next GOP debate stage could shrink to six candidates
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As few as six candidates could make the next GOP presidential debate stage in January, as Fox Business Network's new criteria could drastically shrink the field less than a month before the Iowa caucuses. 

Fox Business Network announced three separate avenues to make the main stage, but those pathways are more restricted than in previous debates. Participants in the main stage debate on Jan. 14 must hit the top six in an average of five recent national polls, or top five in an average of recent polls from Iowa or New Hampshire. 
 
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The rest will qualify for another undercard debate, provided that they earn at least 1 percent in one of the qualifying polls.  
 
Last month's CNN debate also relied on early state polling, but set a 4 percent threshold. Nine candidates made the network's main event. 
 
Fox Business Network, as in the past, hasn't announced which polls it would use. But using current RealClearPolitics averages, Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump pens op-ed on kindergartners learning tech Bharara, Yates tamp down expectations Mueller will bring criminal charges Overnight Cybersecurity: Equifax security employee left after breach | Lawmakers float bill to reform warrantless surveillance | Intel leaders keeping collusion probe open MORE, Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzWhatever you think the Alabama special election means, you’re probably wrong This week: Congress gets ball rolling on tax reform Week ahead: Senators work toward deal to fix ObamaCare markets MORE, Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Defense: Tillerson, Trump deny report of rift | Tillerson says he never considered resigning | Trump expresses 'total confidence' in secretary | Rubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad Rubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad with pro-communist posts GOP establishment doubts Bannon’s primary powers MORE, Ben Carson, Jeb Bush and Chris Christie currently sit in the national top six. 
 
Those six candidates also make up the top five in Iowa in New Hampshire, in a different order. So depending on which polls would qualify, no other candidates would make the main stage as of now. 
 
That would relegate Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulHouse bill set to reignite debate on warrantless surveillance Authorizing military force is necessary, but insufficient GOP feuds with outside group over analysis of tax framework MORE, Carly Fiorina and John Kasich to the undercard debate weeks before the first votes of 2016 are cast. Candidates may get one more shot on Jan. 28, when Fox News hosts a debate just days before the Feb. 1 Iowa caucus.