Third-party candidates miss cut for first debate

The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) announced on Friday that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and their running mates are the only candidates who will participate in the first debates.

This means Trump and Clinton will take part in the Sept. 26 debate at Hofstra University in New York, but that Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein will not be invited.

The Oct. 4 vice presidential debate will just include Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Mike Pence.

It’s still possible Johnson or Stein could be invited to the presidential debates scheduled for Oct. 9 and Oct. 19, but it will require them to increase their standing in polls.

The commission had required that candidates register an average of 15 percent support in five recent polls, which the CPD had selected. Johnson and Stein both failed to meet the threshold for the first debates.

In the CPD’s sample of polls, Johnson averaged 8.4 percent support and Stein averaged 3.2 percent.

Both have railed against the CPD’s criteria, saying that it unfairly limited voters’ options in an election cycle where the two major party nominees are both registering high unfavorable ratings.

In an interview with the Des Moines Register earlier this month, Johnson said that even though his poll numbers are low in comparison to those of Clinton and Trump, the percentages that he’s registering represent millions of people.

“Our polling is ticking up,” Johnson said. “It’s ratcheting up. And so if we’re not in the first debate, there’s a good chance we’ll be in the next debate. But I’ll just ask you this: When you’re representing 13 million people, how do you discount that? How do you say 13 million people shouldn’t be represented on the stage?”

Though Johnson and Stein are registering just single-digit support in most polls, many voters still want to see them in the debates.

A Morning Consult poll earlier this month showed that 52 percent of voters wanted Johnson on the stage at the first debate, and 47 percent said the same about Stein.

2016

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