The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) ruled today, September 16, 2016, that of the top presidential candidates, only two, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, will be invited to the first national presidential debate to be held on September 26 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.
The Libertarian Presidential candidate, Gary Johnson, and the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein, will be excluded from the national debate.
By the same token, only the Democratic and Republican Vice Presidential nominees will be invited to the Vice Presidential Debate to be held on October 4 at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia.
The criteria for inclusion in the national debate, announced on October 29, 2015, are as follows:
…Candidates qualify for debate participation who: (1) are constitutionally eligible to hold the office of President of the United States; (2) have achieved ballot access in a sufficient number of states to win a theoretical Electoral College majority in the general election; and (3) have demonstrated a level of support of at least 15 percent of the national electorate, as determined by five selected national public opinion polling organizations, using the average of those organizations’ most recent publicly-reported results.
According to the CPD, four candidates now satisfy the first two criteria: Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein. The third criterion, however, was not met by the Libertarian Party and Green Party candidates.
The five polls that the CPD chose to rely on were selected by Dr. Frank Newport, Editor-in-Chief of Gallup:
- ABC-Washington Post;
- CBS-New York Times;
- CNN-Opinion Research Corporation;
- Fox News;
- NBC-Wall Street Journal.
According to these five polls, the candidates rated as follows::
- Hillary Clinton (43%),
- Donald Trump (40.4%)
- Gary Johnson (8.4%)
- Jill Stein (3.2%).
The first two criteria for entry into the debates are attainable by as many candidates who can objectively qualify and hence are inclusive. The third criterion for inclusion in the debate is based on a policy of a zero sum game, when it comes to poll averages. The higher the front runners come out in the polls, the harder it is for anyone else to get in.
The CPD has sponsored the Presidential Debates since 1988. In the 1992 election, independent candidate Ross Perot participated in the first of three presidential debates held in Clayton, Missouri on October 11. Since then, it has become increasingly difficult for any but the top two candidates — always running on behalf of the Republican or Democratic Parties — to gain entry into the debates.