Today marks the first of the final 30 days counting down to the opening gun for the GOP primary debate circuit, with Fox News set to host the August 6th event in Iowa.
At present, there are 14 officially declared candidates, with Gov. Scott Walker only days from formally entering and Gov. John Kasich set to announce on July 21st.
The RNC has allowed among the rules for the nine official debates some leeway for networks to determine who gets an on-stage invite.
In the 2012 race, in as many as five instances GOP candidates catapulted to the top of the primary polls after strong debate performances.
So a position on the stage next month — almost certain to have the largest television viewership — is critical to whether each candidate survives the marathon to the Iowa Caucuses.
With 16 candidates in the race for the GOP nomination, at least six will not make the cut. According to the RCP polling average, those half dozen unfortunate candidates would include Santorum, Fiorina, Kasich, Jindal, Graham, and Pataki.
Some analysts speculate that the fallout from the debate race could mean a half dozen or more casualties in the GOP slate before the end of the year.