Republican National Committee Sets Stricter Criteria for Second Presidential Primary Debate, Likely Limiting Longshot Candidates’ Chances

The Republican National Committee (RNC) has recently unveiled new criteria for the second presidential primary debate in September, raising the bar for contenders and potentially narrowing the field of 2024 longshot candidates vying for the nomination.

To qualify for the first GOP presidential debate on August 23 in Milwaukee, contenders were required to surpass a 40,000 unique donor threshold, meet polling criteria, and sign a loyalty pledge to support the eventual nominee. However, the requirements for the September 27 debate in Simi Valley, California, have become more stringent, causing concern for candidates struggling to meet the initial debate qualifications, as confirmed by the Daily Caller News Foundation from a reliable source familiar with the RNC’s plans.

To be eligible for the second debate, candidates now need to surpass a 50,000 unique donor threshold, with at least 200 donors coming from 20 different states or territories within 48 hours of the debate. Moreover, the RNC will require hopefuls to secure a minimum of 3% support in two national primary polls or 3% in one national poll and two key early primary state polls (Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, or South Carolina), as disclosed by the same source.

The polls must be recognized by the RNC, have a sample size of at least 800 likely Republican primary voters, and not be conducted by polling firms affiliated with any GOP presidential candidate. These surveys must have been completed on or after August 1st, and candidates must meet the polling criteria within 48 hours of the second debate.

The pledges required to qualify for the first debate, including the loyalty pledge and the commitment not to participate in non-RNC debates, also apply to the second debate, according to the information from the reliable source.

The updated criteria were first reported by Politico, and their implementation could significantly impact the chances of lesser-known candidates in the 2024 Republican presidential race.

Many Republican presidential hopefuls have struggled to make the first debate requirements, including former Vice President Mike Pence, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, former Texas Rep. Will Hurd, and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.

Suarez’s super political action committee, SOS America, has been offering contributors who donate $1 to be entered in a contest to win a year of college tuition. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, who has now met the RNC’s first debate criteria, was giving out $20 gift cards for donors who gave as little as $1.

Along with Burgum, former President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and conservative businessman Vivek Ramaswamy have also met the requirements to make the first debate stage, according to Politico.

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