Will Carly Fiorina Be In The Republican Debate In September? The GOP's Only Female Candidate Sure Isn't Happy
As the second Republican primary debate on September 16 grows ever nearer, it seems more and more likely that Carly Fiorina will not be included in the next debate. The realization has the Fiorina campaign in an outrage, considering the candidate's boost in polls following her landslide victory during the Fox News "happy hour" debate on August 6. But although the Republican Party's only female candidate now has a march larger presence, her low polling numbers from earlier in the summer may hurt her.
Like the Fox News debate, the CNN debate will allow the top ten polling candidates to debate on the main stage, while a secondary debate will be hosted for the candidates who didn't break the top ten. But the trouble for Fiorina lies in which polls CNN chooses to use. As outline in the runs they released earlier this summer, the network will pull from eight weeks of polls to determine their average — three weeks before the first debate, and five weeks after.
But of the ten national polls CNN will use to make their average, only two will have been conducted since the August 6 debate. Which means that Fiorina, who went into the first debate ranked 14th, will not be able to take her place on the main stage.
According to Fiorina, the method of putting together the averages is flawed. "We don't have national primaries, we have statewide primaries, and there are loads of state polls now," Fiorina said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "They all say the same thing: I'm in the top five. And so I didn't think the Fox News rules were particularly good using national polls. I don't think the CNN rules are particularly good, especially since they go all the way back to mid-July."
It's not exactly clear where Fiorina sits in terms of national averages. According to POLITICO, she's ranked 12th nationally, and a Quinnipiac poll has her coming in eighth with 5 percent. In individual states she's fairing much better, coming in fifth in Iowa, and third in New Hampshire.
To solve the problem, the Fiorina campaign has suggested CNN weight polls done after the first debate more heavily. But neither CNN or the Republican National Committee are willing to change the rules. According to the RNC, Federal Election Committee law prevents them from intervening in favor of one candidate.
And CNN has no desire to change the rules either. “We believe that our approach is a fair and effective way to deal with the highest number of candidates we have ever encountered," a CNN official told The Hill. Which means that Fiorina is likely out.
Fiorina's deputy campaign manager, Sarah Isgur Flores, took to Medium to express her frustration at the course of events. "Despite being solidly in the top 10 by every measure, the political establishment is still rigging the game to keep Carly off the main debate stage next month," Isgur Flores said. "I am a little surprised that the RNC and CNN feel quite so strongly to keep her off the stage yet again. I’m upset because this is ridiculous."
The third primary debate will be hosted on October 28 in Colorado, by CNBC. The rules of the debate have not yet been announced, though it will likely follow the same format as the first two. Perhaps, following the Fiorina debacle, the debate organizers will provide a spot for whoever wins the CNN happy hour debate.