FoxNews is the main sponsor of the upcoming Iowa Republican presidential debate being held on August 11th in conjunction with the Ames straw poll. Going into the debate they laid out some basic rules, in conjunction with the Iowa Republican Party, for who could participate. Candidates had to be:
"1. Registered with the Federal Elections Commission as a presidential exploratory committee or presidential campaign
2. Meet all U.S. Constitutional requirements
3. Garnered at least an average of one percent in five national polls based on most recent polling leading up to the registration day."
Pretty straightforward stuff. And based on these criteria I was one of many who assumed that New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson would be included in the debate. In the polls of declared candidates which have included him during the past month he has scored 1% or more and he obviously meets the other requirements.
Yet today the FoxNews website suggests that Johnson will not be included in the debate, saying:
"Johnson's low poll numbers make him ineligible for next week's Fox News debate in Iowa. He wasn't allowed to participate in CNN's New Hampshire debate either. The latest polls show him with less than 1 percent of voters."
Yet, as was the case with the last New Hampshire debate, the only basis on which Johnson can reasonably be said to not meet these criteria is if you count him as failing to receive 1% or more in polls in which he was not actually included as an option, and in those polls results like "someone else" get 2% or more, suggesting that participants might have selected Johnson had they been given the option.
If you look at the actual polls taken during the month of July (there have been no polls in August) there were 9 major polls conducted and here is how Johnson fared:
PPP - Not Included
Rasmussen - Not Included
Pew - Not Included
Gallup - Not Included
CNN - 1%
Fox - 1%
ABC - Not Included
NBC - Not Included
Quinnipiac - Not Included
So in the only polls where he was included he received 1%, including in Fox's own poll. But since only two polls asked about him it was impossible for him to have 5 qualifying polls. It's also troubling that many of these polls included as yet undeclared candidates like Thadeus McCotter or Rick Perry but left Johnson out, despite the fact that he is actively fundraising and campaigning and has an established nationwide following.