Fox Business News announced the first tier candidate lineup in the next prime time GOP debate scheduled for 9 p.m. on Thursday, January 14, 2016 in North Charleston, South Carolina.
According to Fox Business News, billionaire Donald Trump; Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX); Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL); retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson; New Jersey Governor Chris Christie; former Florida Governor Jeb Bush; and Ohio Governor John Kasich qualified as first tier candidates by placing in the top six in an average of recent national polls, or in the top five an average of recent New Hampshire or Iowa polls.
A Real Clear Politics average of recent national polls for the Republican presidential nomination shows that Trump commands a strong lead at at 34% while Cruz (20%), Rubio (11%), and Carson (9.5%) trail far behind. All of the other first tier candidates polled in the low single digits, including former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (3.8%), Ohio Governor John Kasich (1.8%), and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (4.3%).
In Iowa, Cruz and Trump are neck-and-neck at 27.3% and 26.8%, respectively. Rubio and Carson have slightly better poll numbers in Iowa compared to national polls. However, Cruz is in third place in New Hampshire at 10.8% behind Rubio's 13.2%. Trump is in first place in New Hampshire by a wide margin at 30.2%
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) is boycotting the debate because he was not chosen as a first tier candidate. Although Paul has stronger polling numbers nationally and in Iowa than Kasich, Paul did not place in the top six nationally or in the top five in Iowa or New Hampshire. Kasich placed in the top five due to a strong standing in New Hampshire, but he only polls at 1.8% nationally and 2.0% in Iowa.
"By any reasonable criteria Senator Paul has a top tier campaign," the Paul campaign stated after the GOP lineup was announced. "He will not let the media decide the tiers of this race and will instead take his message directly to the voters of New Hampshire and Iowa."
"Multiple national polls including CNN, CBS, Fox, Marist and others have him in 5th or 6th place, one had him just a single point out of 4th. In multiple polls he scores ahead of Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich and Carly Fiorona. In yesterday's Marist Iowa poll he was alone in 5th place. In fact his numbers are on the rise in recent weeks," the Paul campaign contended.
"Even the pollsters are concerned that the media is using their polls incorrectly. Polls are at best an estimation, and include a standard of error that the media and the RNC are ignoring. A poll number of five is no different than a poll number of 8 if the standard of error is +/- 3. To exclude candidates on faulty analysis is to disenfranchise the voter."
"Creating "tiers" based on electoral results of real votes might make sense but creating "tiers" on bad science is irresponsible."