It’s decision day: The presidential election is still 461 days away, but today Republican presidential candidates will find out whether they are among the 10 candidates who will take the stage Thursday during the first, nationally televised primetime presidential debate.
Fox News, which is hosting the debate with Facebook, has said the field on stage will comprise the top 10 candidates based on an average of national polls using standard methodological techniques, but hasn’t specified which polls qualify or how they will handle a tie for 10th place.
With a handful of polls already released in the final hours before the cutoff, the top 10 is shaping up based on the five most recent nationwide polls, all of which use traditional telephone poll methodology widely expected to meet Fox’s criteria.
CNN’s poll of polls, an average of the five most recent national telephone polls puts the following candidates in the top 10:
- Donald Trump is the clear frontrunner with 23% of support among Republican voters. His lead was clear in polls going back several weeks.
- Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush comes in second with 13%
- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is third with 11%
Trump, Bush and Walker have consistently placed in the top three in recent weeks, with Walker and Bush trading places between second and third based on the poll. The three most recent polls put Bush in second place.
The rest of the field remains in single-digits, with support for each candidate a bit more fluid, but the most recent five polls have been largely consistent in determining who will make the cut for the primetime debate will be. Here’s their support based on CNN’s poll of polls:
- Ben Carson, retired nurosurgeon: 7%
- Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor, 7%
- Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, 6%
- Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, 5%
- Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, 5%
- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, 3%
- Ohio Gov. John Kasich, 3%
There’s always a chance another poll or two could drop later on Tuesday – before the 5 p.m. cutoff Fox News has set out – that could change the dynamic, particularly for Christie or Kasich, who are within 1 point of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry – the 11th man in CNN’s poll of polls. If any of that group were to land in a tie, it’s unclear how Fox would determine who makes it to the stage.
If the numbers hold, here are the final seven who would square off during an earlier and all but certainly less viewed 5 p.m. debate, based on CNN’s polling average:
Rick Perry, former Texas governor, 2% Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, 1% Carly Fiorina, former business executive, 1% Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, 1% Rick Santorum, former Pennsylvania senator, 1% Jim Gilmore, former Virginia governor, <1% George Pataki, former New York governor, <1%
CNN’s poll of polls includes the latest CBS News, Bloomberg Politics, Fox News and Monmouth University polls released in the last 24 hours as well as the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
It’s unclear exactly what standard Fox News will use to determine which five polls are included in their average or whether they will round support to the nearest whole number, as CNN does in the Poll of Polls.