Are Networks ‘Drawing Straws’ When it Comes to Debate Participants?

By Mark Joyella 

Bloomberg Politics concludes by it will be “virtually impossible” for Fox News to identify the candidates who will be participating in the network’s first Republican debate — one month from today — “until just days before the event, regardless of what they do in the coming weeks.”

“For candidates on the bubble, the most frustrating thing about the process may be its uncertainty and near-randomness,” writes Bloomberg’s Steven Yaccino. “Methodologically, they might as well be drawing straws.”

Fox News announced in May that polling data would be used to determine eligibility for the August 6 debate, with national poll results determining the ten candidates who would take part in the debate. CNN later announced it would use polls to choose participants in its Republican debate set for September 16.


“National polls are the traditional, time-tested yardstick by which presidential hopefuls have long been measured and remain the fairest, most objective and most straight-forward metric for gauging the viability of these candidates,” Michael Clemente, executive vice president of news for Fox, said in statement to Bloomberg. “We will use a range of quality polls that people are currently seeing out there and although all of them may not be identical, all will use methods that are accepted by the polling community. We have already made clear we won’t use partisan and online polls.”