Dem 51
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GOP 49
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The Rules for the Second Debate Are Now Set

The first Republican debate won't even happen for 3 weeks, but the RNC is thinking ahead and has now released the criteria for getting on stage for the second debate. Any candidate who doesn't make the stage the second time is dead meat.

Here are the criteria. First, a candidate will have to hit 3% in two national polls or 3% in one national poll and 3% in two of the early states. That's triple the 1% needed for debate #1. Again this time, the polls need large sample sizes and have to be from independent pollsters. The date, location, and sponsor for the second debate haven't been announced yet.

Second, a candidate needs 50,000 donors with at least 200 donors from each of 20 states to show that one is a national candidate, not a regional candidate. There are no rules banning "buying" donations by giving each donor a $20 Amazon gift card or a $50 prepaid Visa card for making a $1 donation. The rich candidates are going to use that trick again, as they have for the first debate.

In principle, a candidate who missed the criteria for the first debate but made those for the second one will get on stage. In practice, anyone who didn't make the stage the first time will be written off as dead and has almost no chance of making it the second time.

So, who has already met the criteria for debate #1? Seven candidates appear to have already qualified: Gov. Doug Burgum (R-ND), Ron DeSantis, Chris Christie, Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, Tim Scott, and Donald Trump. You can count on the first six showing up with great enthusiasm. Trump hasn't said if he is coming. On the one hand, he hates missing a party. But on the other, if he is there, he will be the target of a lot of pot shots. (V)

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