The RNC announced new polling and fundraising criteria in order for candidates to participate in primary debates, with some big names not expected to make the cut.
The first Republican primary debate will be held on August 23rd on Fox News.
Participants will have to sign a loyalty pledge promising to support the eventual nominee and not participate in any external debates.
Candidates will also have to poll above 1% in three national polls, or two national polls and a state poll, and receive donations from at least 40,000 contributors nationally with at least 200 unique donors in at least 20 states.
Polls will not count toward qualification until July 1st and candidates will have until August 21st – or 48 hours before the debate – to qualify and turn in their pledges.
The requirements are a dramatic change form 2016, when candidates simply had to be in the top 10 of nationally recognized polls.
As such, some big name candidates are not expected to qualify for the first debate.
Who Will Qualify?
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy all meet the polling and donation threshold. They’re also apparently willing to sign a loyalty pledge.
Former President Donald Trump is less so. He said during a February interview that it his loyalty would “depend on who the nominee was” and has even discussed skipping the first two debates altogether. He will likely keep both supporters and critics waiting until the last moment to make his decision.
Former Vice President Mike Pence is on the fence due to fundraising. He is expected to formally announce his campaign this week which does not give him much time to meet the donor threshold. He has also voiced resistance to supporting Trump as the nominee again, casting some doubt on a loyalty pledge.
Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson is also sweating the donor threshold. He has criticized the 40,000 minimum as too high a standard which forces candidates to rely on email donors using extreme rhetoric to generate donations.