Tags: Trump Administration | Ben Carson | GOP2016 | Jeb Bush | Marco Rubio | Mike Huckabee | Rand Paul | Ted Cruz

GOP's Potentially Huge 2016 Field Vexes Debate Planners

By    |   Wednesday, 13 May 2015 11:03 PM

Republican Party officials are meeting in Arizona this week, and perhaps the most vexing question will be how to determine which of as many as 19 contenders for the 2016 presidential nomination will be allowed to participate in coming debates.

"This is a vastly different scenario than has ever occurred before," Sean Spicer, Republican National Committee communications director and chief strategist, told Politico. "In the past, going as far back as '76 or '80, it's always been about getting in the debate — what's the threshold for getting in a debate?

"Now it's about keeping people out," Spicer said.

The GOP-sponsored debates are set to begin in Cleveland in August, Politico reports — and the nominee field is growing nearly every week.

Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton is expected to announce his candidacy Thursday,  and three candidates entered the fray last week: retired pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

They join previously declared candidates Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Marco Rubio of Florida. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has set a May 27 announcement date, and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham is expected to make his intentions known on June 1.

In the past, GOP officials have relied on polling to select candidates. But with the real possibility of such a large slate, even pollsters are coming to grips with the problems in querying voters on so many names in surveys, Politico reports.

"It's less than ideal, regardless of the method," Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, told Politico. The college polls nationally for McClatchy and statewide for NBC News.

"When it starts getting to double digits, that becomes cumbersome to administer," he said.
"Ideally, you wouldn't want to ask 19 or even 14," Doug Schwartz, director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, told Politico. "But if they're being seriously discussed as potential candidates, you put them in."

The surveying is further complicated by the reality that voters will not start casting primary ballots for another eight months — and pollsters caution that results reflect only a particular moment in time, according to the report.

Current surveys by various agencies have generally placed Rubio, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in the lead, but others often finish so close together that their averages are statistically insignificant, Politico notes.

"Unless you can name someone off the top of your head, you're not committed to them," said Monmouth University Polling Institute director Patrick Murray.

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Republican Party officials are meeting in Arizona this week, and perhaps the most vexing question will be how to determine which of as many as 19 contenders for the 2016 presidential nomination will be allowed to participate in coming debates.
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2015-03-13
Wednesday, 13 May 2015 11:03 PM
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