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. 
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 TrumpKoch-backed group launches six-figure ad buy against Heitkamp Anti-abortion Dem wins primary fight Lipinski holds slim lead in tough Illinois primary fight MORE, Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCruz says Cambridge Analytica assured him its practices were legal Dem battling Cruz in Texas: ‘I can understand how people think this is crazy’ Overnight Tech: Facebook faces crisis over Cambridge Analytica data | Lawmakers demand answers | What to watch for next | Day one of AT&T's merger trial | Self-driving Uber car kills pedestrian MORE, Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRubio: McCabe 'should've been allowed to finish through the weekend' For Tillerson, bucking Trump became a job-killer At least six dead after pedestrian bridge collapses on cars in Florida 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 PaulTrump formally sends Pompeo nomination to Senate Spending bill delay raises risk of partial government shutdown support Overnight Defense: Senate sides with Trump on military role in Yemen | Dem vets push for new war authorization on Iraq anniversary | General says time isn't 'right' for space corps 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.