Nikki Haley and Trump, GOP

In the quest to become the primary alternative to former President Donald Trump, the Republican candidate pool is rapidly diminishing. The driving force behind this winnowing is the heightened Republican National Committee‘s-RNC standards for debate inclusion.

Who’s left on the battlefield?

Only three contenders—Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, and tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy—have garnered the requisite polling support and donor numbers for a coveted spot on the Wednesday stage.

The RNC standards have raised the bar for polling and donor thresholds, making it increasingly challenging for lower-tier candidates to secure a position on the stage.

 RNC standards to qualify

To qualify, candidates must boast at least 6% support in two national polls or at least 6% in one nationwide poll coupled with two polls from distinct early states, all meeting the RNC’s inclusion criteria since Sept. 15.


Furthermore, candidates must rally at least 80,000 unique donors including a minimum of 200 contributors from 20 different states or territories. A crucial requirement is each candidate’s commitment to the RNC’s pledge to support the party’s ultimate nominee.

Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has struggled to make the stage since the second debate in September, failing to qualify. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, announced the suspension, which effectively ended his presidential bid. Despite amassing sufficient donors for the third debate, Burgum fell short in qualifying polls.

 Survival of the fittest?

In recent years, qualification standards have become integral to the debate process as both the RNC and its Democratic counterpart exert more control over these events.

This strategic move reduces the influence of media organizations in determining which candidates earn the privilege of participating in crucial debates.

The evolving dynamics promise a fiercely contested battle for the limelight as the remaining surviving candidates vie for their place on the stage.

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