How to Fix an Unfair Presidential Debate System

Stuart Rothenberg May 28, 2015 · 11:35 AM EDT

Fox News and CNN, which will broadcast the first two GOP presidential debates, have decided on a system for excluding candidates that could result in Donald Trump participating in those debates but current or former senators and governors being excluded.

Nice going, guys.

I certainly agree having a debate with 16 candidates is simply unwatchable, and there is no easy way to make the early debates fair to the candidates while at the same time more watchable and informative for viewers. But Fox and CNN have both dropped the ball as they try to avoid making tough decisions.

At the first debate on Aug. 6 in Cleveland, Fox will limit participation to candidates who “place in the top 10 in an average of the five most recent national polls in the run-up to the event.” Fox apparently will “provide additional coverage and air time on Aug. 6 to the candidates who do not place in the top 10.”

CNN has chosen a similar-but-not-identical approach that is also based on polling leading up to the debate. It will hold two separate forums, one for the top-tier hopefuls and a second for the also-rans.

Fox and CNN, along with the Republican National Committee, can (and surely will) argue they are not excluding candidates from the first debate, the public is. And I’m sure they will say that with…

Kirkpatrick’s Decision Prompts Ratings Changes in Two Arizona Races

May 26, 2015 · 1:00 PM EDT

Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick’s challenge to Republican Sen. John McCain impacts our ratings of two races in Arizona. 

Up to this point, McCain was considered a heavy favorite for re-election to a sixth term, in part because the senator has proven to be a tough campaigner. Moreover, Republicans…

500 Attack Emails Couldn’t Take Down Thom Tillis

Nathan L. Gonzales May 26, 2015 · 11:41 AM EDT

There were a few constants during the 2014 cycle: death, taxes, my three young kids waking up before 7 a.m. and a daily Democratic email attacking North Carolina Speaker Thom Tillis. But in the end, even in the face of hundreds of blistering emails, the Republican challenger knocked off Democratic…