The Fourth GOP Primetime Debate Will Be Different

Since the third GOP debate didn't turn out to be the night we all hoped for (where moderators ask questions of substance and candidates engage in a real, well, debate), maybe the fourth time will be a charm. But hopes aren't too high that the Nov. 10 primetime debate for Republican candidates will be markedly different from the first three, as the criteria set by Fox Business and The Wall Street Journal means we're still getting a pretty sizable group — eight, count 'em eight candidates — for the primetime round. And they're all faces we know really well by now.

The final debate lineup was finally announced on Thursday by Fox Business Network: Candidates Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Ted Cruz, former Gov. Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, Gov. John Kasich, and Sen. Rand Paul will be on stage in Milwaukee for the primetime debate. And in the undercard debate, viewers will get to see Gov. Chris Christie, Gov. Mike Huckabee, Gov. Bobby Jindal, and former Senator Rick Santorum.

Fox Business announced on Oct. 27 that only candidates who scored 2.5 percent or higher in an average of the four most recent national polls conducted through Nov. 4 would be invited to participate in the primetime event, which begins at 9 p.m. ET and is scheduled to run two hours. For those that scored at least 1 percent in at least one of those four polls, but couldn't reach that 2.5 percent mark, an undercard debate will be held at 7 p.m. ET and will last 90 minutes.


Primetime appearances by Donald Trump and Ben Carson were pretty much a given. The two candidates' numbers in the polls stood around 25 percent on Nov. 3. While Trump's overall percentage took a small dive in the first days of November, he still leads in several of the Republican national polls. Meanwhile, Carson's numbers have made steady increases since the beginning of October and the retired neurosurgeon was declared the lead candidate in an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on Nov. 3.

With recent poll numbers between 3 and 10 percent, it shouldn't be a shock that Rubio, Cruz, Bush, and Fiorina will all still be around for the primetime debate. So who did we lose, exactly, from the 9 p.m. round? Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee, who somehow made their way into the group of 10 GOP'ers for the third debate, have finally been voted off the island.

And as Christie and Huckabee move on down to the smaller, less-viewed island that is the undercard debate, Lindsey Graham and George Pataki are out of the event altogether. Candidates Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal, whose average numbers have actually dipped below the 1 percent minimum in recent days, were able to get enough polling votes in at least one national poll to stay on the undercard debate stage this fourth time around.

Though each new Republican debate brings a slightly smaller group, the fact that we started out with pretty much binders full of candidates means there's still a ways to go before American viewers can focus on two or three GOP presidential hopefuls. Good thing we've got seven more Republican debates after Nov. 10 to do just that.