The leading candidates still need one more poll to officially stamp their tickets, the RNC confirmed Tuesday.
The Republican National Committee on Tuesday clarified the criteria for presidential candidates to qualify for the debate stage, placing the bar ever so slightly higher than had been interpreted.
The committee confirmed that candidates have two paths for hitting the polling criteria in order to qualify for the first primary debate next month. They could hit 1 percent in three RNC-sanctioned national polls, or they could hit that mark in two national polls combined with two (not one) state-specific polls.
Earlier in the day, POLITICO incorrectly reported that a half-dozen candidates had qualified for the debate, which is set to be held on Aug. 23 in Milwaukee, due to a misinterpretation of the committee’s criteria. No candidate has met that mark just yet.
The confusion stemmed from the wording within the RNC’s debate qualifications. The criteria read that to score an invite to the debate stage, candidates need either one percent in three national polls or “two national polls and 1% in one early state poll from two separate ‘carve out’ states (Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina) recognized by the RNC.”
POLITICO initially interpreted that requirement to mean that candidates could qualify for the debate stage with two national polls and one early state poll from any of the early states.
But on Tuesday, the RNC confirmed that candidates needed two national polls and two early-state polls, each coming from separate early states.
Other media outlets also shared POLITICO’s incorrect interpretation of the debate criteria. Fox News — one of the co-hosts of the first debate — NBC News, FiveThirtyEight and others have all reported that candidates could qualify for the first debate by hitting one percent in two national polls and a single early state poll.
The RNC’s clarification means that six candidates are now just one more poll away from qualifying for the debate stage.
Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, Chris Christie and Tim Scott all hit 1 percent in a pair of polls released Tuesday that, in POLITICO’s tracking, meet the RNC’s debate qualifying thresholds: A national survey from Morning Consult and a New Hampshire poll from the University of New Hampshire. The six had also hit that mark in a Morning Consult survey released last week.
All six of those candidates will almost assuredly qualify for the debate in the near future. Each needs either 1 percent in another national poll — a mark that all regularly clear — or 1 percent in a survey from Iowa, Nevada or South Carolina. Under the RNC criteria, surveys from an individual state can not be counted twice, meaning that New Hampshire polls are no longer relevant for the purposes of debate qualifications for those six.
Former Vice President Mike Pence is also in the same camp for the polling threshold. He, however, has not hit the secondary donor threshold — 40,000 unique donors, with 200 donors in 20 different states or territories — that the others have.
“We will qualify. Getting 40,000 donors in just a few short weeks is a challenge,” Pence said on “Fox and Friends” on Tuesday morning. “We’re not offering gift cards, not offering kickbacks or tickets to soccer games, just traveling.”
No other candidate is as close to making it on stage. Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is at 1 percent in one national poll, while North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum cleared that mark in the New Hampshire survey. Neither has publicly said they’ve crossed the donor threshold.