Presidential races

GOP debate countdown: Who’s in and who’s out?

The first Republican presidential debate is one month away, making the next 30 days a critical period for the more than half-dozen candidates who are in danger of being left off the stage.

The Fox News debate in Cleveland on Aug. 6 will only include the top 10 candidates, as determined by national polling averages.

{mosads}If the debate were held today, the governor of a critical battleground state would miss the cut, as would the winner of the 2012 Iowa caucuses. Businessman Donald Trump, meanwhile, appears on track to take the stage.

Fox News has said it will determine the debate participants using the average of five national polls, though it hasn’t said which it will use.

The Hill used the RealClearPolitics (RCP) average of polls, which pulls from the four most recent national surveys. 


Jeb Bush

The former Florida governor has hit his stride since launching his candidacy last month.

Bush has rocketed to the top of the national polls, taking 16.3 percent support in the RCP average, and leads the next closest contender by nearly 6 percentage points.

He is also the front-runner in New Hampshire, the first-in-the-nation primary state. 

The debates could help Bush win over Republican voters who are skeptical of his conservative bona fides, though they could also draw attention to his rift with the base on immigration reform and Common Core.

Scott Walker

The Wisconsin governor’s polling numbers have fallen in recent weeks, going from a peak of 17.3 percent support in April to 10.5 percent presently.

He will be looking for a bump from his official campaign launch, which he is set to deliver on July 13 from the suburbs of Milwaukee.

Walker is the front-runner in Iowa, where he leads the next closest candidate by more than 8 percentage points.

Ben Carson

The retired neurosurgeon currently sits in third place nationally, taking 9.8 percent support.

Carson has more than doubled his support nationally since his campaign launch in early May. He will stand out on the debate stage as the only African-American candidate and, potentially, the only participant who has never held elected office. 

Marco Rubio

Rubio rode a wave of conservative buzz into the top tier of candidates following his April presidential launch, moving into second place with support that peaked at 14.3 percent.

He has since drawn back into the pack and currently sits in fourth place with 9.3 percent support.

Rubio will face high expectations going into the debate. Conservatives have touted him as the future of the party, but he has to convince the base he’s ready to be president now.


Mike Huckabee

The former Arkansas governor has a durable and steady base of support.

Huckabee has been in or around the top five candidates for months now and currently sits in fifth place, with 7.8 percent support.

His campaign seems to have been reinvigorated by the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage. Huckabee was the first out of the gate with a denouncement of the decision and seems intent on making the issue the centerpiece of his campaign.

Rand Paul

The Kentucky senator didn’t get much of a bump from his presidential launch in April, but he is holding steady in sixth place at 7.3 percent support.

 He is also within striking distance of the top contenders in both Iowa and New Hampshire.

Paul stood out for his noninterventionist views when he took the stage with Rubio and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) at the first unofficial Republican forum of the campaign in January. The contrast will be even sharper at the August debate, where all the candidates are likely to be to Paul’s right on foreign policy. 

Donald Trump

The blunt-talking businessman has shocked political watchers with his rise in the polls.

Trump is currently in seventh place nationally, taking 6.5 percent support, but two recent surveys have placed him as high as second place.

His campaign worries many establishment Republicans, who fear his presence on the debate stage could hurt the party’s other candidates.


Ted Cruz

The Texas Republican has fallen hard in the polls.

Cruz became the first official White House candidate in March, vaulting into third place nationally with 11.3 percent support. Now Cruz sits in eighth place, taking only 4 percent support, with Carson and Huckabee eroding his share of the social conservative vote.

Cruz may look to fight back by dipping into his war chest early. His campaign has raised more than $14 million this year, and three super-PACs backing Cruz have hauled in about $37 million.

Rick Perry

After scraping the bottom for much of the year, there are signs of life for the former Texas governor’s campaign.

Perry has nearly doubled his support in recent weeks, creating space between his candidacy and the Republican bottom-dwellers. Perry currently sits in ninth place at 3.8 percent support.

Chris Christie

The New Jersey governor would be the final entrant into the Fox News debate if it were held today, sitting at 10th place with 3.3 percent support.

The pressure will be on Christie to hold that spot, as exclusion from the debate would be a humiliating defeat for the once high-flying governor who, until six months ago, was among the favorites to win the GOP nomination. 


Rick Santorum

Santorum is struggling to recapture the magic of 2012, when he mounted the biggest challenge to eventual nominee Mitt Romney.

That strong showing hasn’t translated into a base of support in 2016. Santorum is in 11th place with 2.3 percent support.

Carly Fiorina

Republicans would love to see Fiorina on the stage in August, but it will be a tough climb. 

The former CEO of Hewlett-Packard is in 12th place with just 2 percent support.

She has earned rave reviews for her barbed attacks on Hillary Clinton and would bring an added dose of diversity to the stage as the only woman on the Republican side.

Fiorina placed ninth in the latest Fox News poll with 3 percent support, her third consecutive month of gains.

John Kasich

The Ohio governor is expected to enter the race for the Republican presidential nomination later this month. 

Many Republicans view Kasich as potential dark horse. He is a centrist with experience in Congress and the private sector, and is now the popular governor of a battleground state.

But Kasich has yet to make inroads with primary voters outside of Ohio. He’s currently in 13th place with only 1.5 percent support.

Bobby Jindal

The Louisiana governor begins his campaign as a long shot, clocking in at 14th place with only 1.3 percent support.

Still, he’s come out swinging, establishing himself as the most vocal proponent of religious liberty on the right while attacking Democrats as socialists.

Lindsey Graham

The South Carolina senator barely registers nationally, tying Jindal for 14th place.

Graham doesn’t appear headed to the debates but could influence the race as a spoiler or kingmaker in his home state.

George Pataki

The former New York governor does not register in national polls.

Tags Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Lindsey Graham Marco Rubio Rand Paul Ted Cruz

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