The Republican National Committee is increasing the requirements for presidential candidates seeking to qualify for the party’s second debate next month at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.
Candidates will need to reach at least 3 percent in two national polls or one national and two state polls in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina or Nevada to qualify for the September 27 debate, according to Politico. For this month’s upcoming debate in Wisconsin, candidates only need to hit 1 percent to qualify. The RNC has also increased the total number of donors from 40,000 to 50,000 with 200 individuals in at least twenty states. The polls must be “conducted with large sample sizes and by firms that are not affiliated with any of the candidates.”
So far seven candidates have qualified for the first GOP debate to be held August 23 in Milwaukee — former president Donald Trump, North Dakota governor Doug Burgum, Florida governor Ron DeSantis, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina and former US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley. Although he has reached 3 percent in national polls, former vice president Mike Pence still has not met the donor threshold.
Trump has remained noncommittal about attending the debate despite leading the pack in fundraising and polling. “You’re leading people by fifty or sixty points, you say, why would you be doing a debate?” Trump said on Fox News in July. “It’s actually not fair. Why would you let someone who’s at zero or one or two or three be popping you with questions?”
Were the new debate qualifications to be rolled out sooner, most of the top candidates would still meet the polling requirements. All except Burgum have polled above 3 percent nationally in the latest Morning Consult Poll. Polls taken in mid and late July show that each of the top seven candidates have also reached 3 percent percent in at least two early nominating states.
With the increased donor requirements, it is possible that candidates continue to get more creative with their fundraising schemes. So far, Burgum has given $20 gift cards in exchange for $1 donations and Ramaswamy’s campaign has pledged to give donors 10 percent of the total amount of money they raise.