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 TrumpAssange meets U.S. congressman, vows to prove Russia did not leak him documents A history lesson on the Confederacy for President Trump GOP senator: Trump hasn't 'changed much' since campaign MORE, Ted CruzTed CruzThe media couldn't be more blatant in distorting Trump's words on Charlottesville Curtis wins GOP primary for House seat vacated by Jason Chaffetz Kimmel: Let’s make Trump a king so he has no power MORE, Marco RubioMarco RubioScarborough: Trump has chosen the 'wrong side' THE MEMO: Trump reignites race firestorm RNC spokeswoman: GOP stands behind Trump's message 'of love and inclusiveness' 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 PaulRand PaulCurtis wins GOP primary for House seat vacated by Jason Chaffetz Glimmer of hope in bipartisan criminal justice reform effort Trump barrage stuns McConnell and his allies 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.