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 TrumpBusiness school deans call for lifting country-specific visa caps Bolton told ex-Trump aide to call White House lawyers about Ukraine pressure campaign: report Federal prosecutors in New York examining Giuliani business dealings with Ukraine: report MORE, Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzThe Hill's Morning Report - Lawmakers return to work as Dem candidates set to debate Cruz: 'Of course' it's not appropriate to ask China to investigate Bidens Sunday Show Preview: Trump's allies and administration defend decision on Syria MORE, Marco RubioMarco Antonio Rubio10 top Republicans who continue to deny the undeniable George Conway hits Republicans for not saying Trump's name while criticizing policy Furious Republicans prepare to rebuke Trump on Syria 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 PaulRand Paul calls for probe of Democrats over Ukraine letter Sunday Show Preview: Trump's allies and administration defend decision on Syria Ana Navarro clashes with Rand Paul in fiery exchange: 'Don't mansplain!' 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.