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80% of Polls for Debate Inclusion Fail to Include Eligible Candidates

80% of Polls for Debate Inclusion Fail to Include Eligible Candidates

Earlier this week, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced its invitations to the first presidential debate. 

The CPD claims to use objective criteria as follows “Pursuant to the criteria, which were publicly announced on October 11, 2019, those 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.

Concerning the third criterion, on August 28, 2020, CPD announced the five polls it would rely upon, which were selected with the professional advice of Dr. Frank Newport, Senior Scientist for Gallup. The polls were selected based on: the reliable frequency of polling and sample size used by the polling organization; the soundness of the survey methodology employed by the polling organization; and the longevity and reputation of the polling organization. The five selected polls are: ABC/Washington Post; CNN; Fox News; NBC/Wall Street Journal; and NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist.”

There are currently four Presidential candidates that meet the criteria of 1 and 2 above; Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Jo Jorgensen, and Howie Hawkins. 

Let’s evaluate the polls chosen to decide the eligibility in the debates.

ABC/Washington Post: The last time this poll was conducted was August 12-15. Joe Biden and Donald Trump were the only options available for the people polled to choose in any question. Neither Jo Jorgensen nor Howie Hawkins were included. 

CNN: The last time this poll was conducted was August 12-15. Joe Biden and Donald Trump were the only options available for the people polled to choose in any question. Neither Jo Jorgensen nor Howie Hawkins were included. 

FOX News: The last time this poll was conducted was September 12-15. Joe Biden and Donald Trump were the only options available for the people polled to choose in any question. Neither Jo Jorgensen nor Howie Hawkins were included.

NBC/Wall Street Journal: The last time this poll was conducted was September 13-16. Joe Biden and Donald Trump were the only options available for the people polled to choose in any question. Neither Jo Jorgensen nor Howie Hawkins were included.

NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist: The last time this poll was conducted was September 11-16. This is the only poll out of the 5 selected that included more than the duopoly candidates. The reported margin of error for the poll was reported to be +- 3.8. Jorgensen polled overall at 5% in this poll with Hawkins pulling in at 2% of the overall sample. We analyzed this poll in an earlier article, which identified that Jorgensen was polling at 12% among Millennials and Generation Z. She was also polling at 9% among Independents. 

One must ask themselves if the polls to determine eligibility for the debates will not include all candidates throughout the entire election cycle, if at all. How will a candidate aside from a Democrat or Republican ever be able to qualify and present another set of ideas to the country? 

This collusion between the debates commission and polling agencies is discussed in our earlier poll selection analysis. You can read that article here.