Who Is In The GOP Debate? The Primetime Showdown On CNN Will Feature A Newcomer Who Shone In The Last Round

Republican presidential candidates arrive on stage for the Republican presidential debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. From left are: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; Florida Sen. Marco Rubio; retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; real estate magnate Donald Trump; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; Texas Sen. Ted Cruz; Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul; and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Source: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

It's been over a month since the first Republican debate of the 2016 presidential election cycle aired on Fox News. The first debate and its coverage ran late into the evening, with laughs from the crowd, interruptions from the candidates, tough questions from the moderators, and a lot of talk-time for Donald Trump. Before the primetime debate, the so-called "kiddie debate" (officially called the forum) took place, where commentators agreed candidate Carly Fiorina shined over her fellow candidates. The second debate, which will be hosted by CNN, will be held on Wednesday, and stars 11 Republican candidates on the roster. On Thursday, CNN released the highly anticipated line-up for the second Republican presidential debate, revealing that there will be a newcomer at the primetime table.

The debate will air on CNN on Sept. 16 from the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, and CNN will air a free live stream.

The New York Times reports that the roster for the next debate was determined by averaging the results from the five most recent public opinion polls. The five polls, one of which was conducted by CNN, revealed once again that Trump is at the very top of the Republican pack, and will take the center podium on stage during the second debate. Joining Trump will be Dr. Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Mike Huckabee, and Carly Fiorina. Fiorina is the sole newcomer to the primetime debate.

According to CBS News, CNN changed the criteria for roster selection in order to ensure that Fiorina would be able to participate in the primetime debate on Thursday. CNN was originally set to use polling data from July 16 through Sept. 2, but instead changed the window for qualification to polling data from Aug. 6 through Sept. 10. The new starting date for qualification is the same date as the first Republican debate and forum, where Fiorina performed very well, and began polling much higher afterwards.

The primetime debate next week will also be proceeded by the "undercard" candidates, who did not make the cut-off for primetime participation. The candidates who will debate before the top-polling candidates will be George Pataki, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, and Lindsey Graham. (Rick Perry was formerly on this list before dropping out.) None of these five candidates polled at 1 percent or higher during CNN's window for debate selection. The only candidate not to make the roster for either debate is Jim Gilmore, according to The New York Times.

The stakes are only getting higher for the candidates as Trump continues to dominate in the polls. CNN reported Thursday that Trump has become the first Republican candidate for 2016 to break 30 percent support, with CNN's poll showing Trump with 32 percent support from GOP voters. The same poll shows Ben Carson replacing Jeb Bush for the second place position at 19 percent support. Now that Fiorina is in the mix for the main debate, both the debate conversation and the top ratings could really shake up.

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