New CNN debate criteria could put Christie back on main stage
© CNN

GOP presidential candidates will be able to leverage early-state support into a spot on the main debate stage at CNN's Dec. 15 debate in Las Vegas, the network announced Friday. 

While there's still more than three weeks of polling left to consider before the spots are finalized, the new criteria as of now pulls Gov. Chris Christie (N.J.) back onto the main debate stage after he dropped off earlier this month. 
 
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The inclusion of Iowa polls specifically would have set up Gov. Bobby Jindal (La.) for his first appearance in a main stage debate — had he not dropped out earlier this week. 
 
To qualify based on national polling, candidates will have to hit a 3.5 percent mark in an average of national polls conducted between Oct. 29 and Dec. 15. That's a full percentage point higher than the threshold for this month's Fox Business News debate. 
 
CNN will also put a candidate on the main stage if he or she has an average of at least 4 percent in polls in either Iowa or New Hampshire. 
 
While the new rules bring Christie back onto the main stage after falling to the undercard during November's Fox Business News debate, former Gov. Mike Huckabee (Ark.), who also dropped down to that second-tier debate, does not currently qualify to move back into the main event. 
 
If polling cut off today, Christie would join Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpUS reimposes UN sanctions on Iran amid increasing tensions Jeff Flake: Republicans 'should hold the same position' on SCOTUS vacancy as 2016 Trump supporters chant 'Fill that seat' at North Carolina rally MORE, Ben Carson, Florida Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSunday shows preview: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election Florida senators pushing to keep Daylight Savings Time during pandemic Hillicon Valley: DOJ indicts Chinese, Malaysian hackers accused of targeting over 100 organizations | GOP senators raise concerns over Oracle-TikTok deal | QAnon awareness jumps in new poll MORE, Texas Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzVideo of Lindsey Graham arguing against nominating a Supreme Court justice in an election year goes viral Sunday shows preview: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election Democrat on Graham video urging people to 'use my words against me': 'Done' MORE, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Kentucky Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSecond GOP senator to quarantine after exposure to coronavirus GOP senator to quarantine after coronavirus exposure The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by National Industries for the Blind - Trump seeks to flip 'Rage' narrative; Dems block COVID-19 bill MORE and Carly Fiorina on the main stage. 
 
A stronger showing in Iowa keeps Fiorina on the main stage, while New Hampshire figures do the same for  Christie. 
 
CNN will use an average of results from the following polls: ABC News, Bloomberg News, CBS News, CNN, Fox News, Gallup, Marist University, McClatchy News Service, Monmouth News Service, NBC News, The New York Times, Pew Research Center, Quinnipiac University, Time, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Des Moines Register, the University of New Hampshire, WBUR and WMUR.
 
The network will not count Investor's Business Daily polls, one of the four used by Fox Business that caused Christie and Huckabee to fall to the undercard.