Politics of Debate Selection Draws Criticism

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, Pool)

With under three weeks until the first Republican primary debate, criticism of the means of selection for the limited 10 slots on the stage is intensifying.

According to the RNC’s rules that govern the officially sanctioned nine debates, sponsoring news networks are allowed to determine their own criteria for invitations.

But the criteria announced by Fox News for the August 6 debate has been a vague reference to candidates’ standing in national polls.

The problem, as was recently argued by Sen. Ted Cruz, is that as much as a third of the 17 official GOP candidates are within the margin of error from each other, which would render the final debate roster arbitrary.

Seasoned political expert Larry Sabato has lobbied most recently for a substantive change in the selection process that allows for a two-tier system for the first few debates in which all candidates who poll at least 1% get a spot on the stage to prove themselves and avoid being forced out of the election due to ambiguous polling routines.