The Marist Institute of Public Opinion, a major independent polling organization, is suspending its polling of the Republican field in protest of polls being used as a criteria to determine debate participants, McClatchyDC
"It's a problem when it's shaping who gets to sit at the table," said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York.
Fox News will host the first GOP debate on Thursday night. With the current field of 17 candidates considered too unwieldy for a debate, Fox has opted to limit participation to the top 10 candidates. It will use an average of the five most recent national polls.
The seven other candidates will be offered a chance to participate in a forum slated for earlier in the day.
CNN will be using similar rules for its GOP debate on Sept. 16, except that CNN will not allow anyone polling under 1 percent to participate even in its forum.
Miringoff said that using the polls to determine who makes a debate is contrary to the purpose of polls, which is to see how voters are thinking. He said the difference of those candidates at the bottom falls within the margin of error, and that the polls use different methodologies to determine their results.
"It's a bad use of public polls," he said. "It asks public polls to have a precision that ignores the margin of error. There's a big distinction made where there's no statistical difference."
The first debate is the first chance for each candidate to make his or her impression, he said, yet some notables likely won't be onstage. The only female candidate, Carly Fiorina, and only candidate who won 11 primaries in 2012, Rick Perry, "may be sitting in the audience," he said.
Miringoff added that using polls to determine debate participation is candidates' behavior as they try to get noticed.
"[John] Kasich is trying to get a big bounce. Rand Paul has a video with a chain saw. Lindsay Graham is hitting cell phones with golf clubs," he said. "Now the public polls are affecting the process they’re supposed to be measuring."
Chris Christie, Kasich and Perry are battling for the final two spots, Politico
reports. Christie and Kasich each have 3.2 percent. Perry is at 2.6 percent.
The final decision won't be made until Tuesday, but as of Sunday the top 10 appear to be Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Christie, and Kasich, according to Politico's analysis.
Fox News has defended its criteria, with its executive vice president of news Michael Clemente saying that people will see that the debate was fair.
"Common sense would tell you that there is no formal schedule for who releases polls and when. And fairness would tell you that we can't judge any poll until you can see the methodology," Clemente said. "When the results are released, everyone will see that common sense and fairness prevailed."
But Fioria told Politico that national polls mostly measure name recognition and that early polls say little about the final outcome.
"[A]t this same point in presidential cycles past, the polls, the pundits, and the money predicted that Jimmy Carter would lose, Ronald Reagan would lose, Bill Clinton would lose, and Barack Obama would lose," Fiorina said.
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