The Republican National Committee announced on Tuesday that four GOP candidates have qualified for its fourth presidential debate, a significant winnowing of the televised field since seven contenders took the stage back in August.
The announcement comes just one day before GOP viewers get the chance to watch a field of alternatives to former President Donald Trump vie for oxygen against a man so popular that he consistently skips the debates without repercussions. The four participants — Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Chris Christie — garnered enough support in public polls and among grassroots donors to meet stringent benchmarks laid down by the RNC. Asa Hutchinson, the former governor of Arkansas, did not make the cut.
To qualify, each candidate was required to cite two national polls where they garnered six percent support or more, or six percent in one national poll and two polls from early-voting states including Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. In addition, each was required to amass more than 80,000 unique donors with at least 200 from 20 states, according to News Nation.
Christie, the last to qualify, met his donor threshold in mid-November and pointed to two national polls from September and October showing him above the benchmark. He has since averaged three percent in national polls, according to Five Thirty Eight.
Seven GOP candidates have already dropped out, including notables like former Vice President Mike Pence, and with some failing to make a single debate appearance. Meanwhile, President Trump has surpassed debate ratings with his series of competing events, forcing sponsors like Fox News to slash their advertising rates in the face of dismal viewership numbers. The Republican frontrunner has already pledged to hold a fundraiser in Florida Wednesday night.
As the number of establishment GOP figures supporting President Trump continues to grow, so has a deafening chorus of calls for the RNC to cancel the remainder of its debate season. President Trump has refused to sign a pledge promising support for the eventual GOP nominee, an initial requirement that the party’s governing body tried to enforce. The lackluster sideshows, which critics have compared to a junior varsity team or a children’s Thanksgiving dinner table, have prompted scorn of RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, including some open hostility by candidates on stage. Vivek Ramaswamy, who was seen arguing with McDaniel following the third debate, has launched a new website calling on his supporters to sign a pledge demanding she resign.