I believe in the importance of objective criteria in life and in business. However, the criteria used to determine who is invited to participate at a Republican Presidential Debate should not distinguish between the most minuscule details, nor split hairs. Excluding Carly Fiorina and Rand Paul from the main debate, but including Kasich and Christie clearly requires the splitting of hairs and distinguishing between minuscule differences.
Fairness matters. By allowing the media to exclude candidates via arbitrarily decided standards, we are allowing the media to potentially discourage Rand Paul and Carly Fiorina supporters from participating in the general election. It’s not that every candidate deserve to be in… they don’t. However, Rand Paul has been in 5th place in two of the last five Iowa polls taken in January. Carly Fiorina has had moments of immense popularity and has inspired many women on the Republican side of the aisle.
Some will argue that, “Well, at 5%, Rand doesn’t really have a chance anyway, so it’s about time we start whittling down the field”. Is it? We haven’t even had our first caucus yet. Carson, Bush, and Christie have all been in low single digits in Iowa, should we push them out as well? I understand that Carson, Bush, and Christie are polling better in New Hampshire, and that if a libertarian-leaning Republican can’t do well in New Hampshire, then they are in serious trouble. However, with this many candidates, the libertarian-leaning vote is being split.
I do not believe that an algorithm converting polling data into a right to be heard should determine the outcome of these elections before the first caucus is held. If it is necessary, given the sheer number of candidates vying for the Republican Nomination to whittle these candidates down before anyone has an opportunity to vote, then we should set bolder standards. For example, a month before the Iowa Caucuses you must be polling in double digits over the last 4 weeks. In other words, tonight’s debate should really be between Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio.
Otherwise, these splitting of hairs does nothing but infuriate those activists who cannot understand why John Kasich and Chris Christie are on the main stage, but Rand Paul and Carly Fiorina are not. I find it difficult not to empathize with their frustration and frustration has consequences. Either leave everyone out that who isn’t polling well, or leave everyone in. Stop splitting hairs. The RNC never should have agreed to these arbitrary formats in the first place.