The non-profit Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) has invited both Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party nominee, and Donald Trump, the Republican Party nominee, to debate at Hofstra University in New York on September 26. That debate state will include neither Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson nor Green Party nominee Jill Stein, neither of whom qualified under the CPD’s inclusion criteria:
Pursuant to the criteria, which were publicly announced on October 29, 2015, those candidates qualify for debate participation who: (1) are constitutionally eligible to hold the office of President of the United States; (2) have achieved ballot access in a sufficient number of states to win a theoretical Electoral College majority in the general election; and (3) have demonstrated a level of support of at least 15 percent of the national electorate, as determined by five selected national public opinion polling organizations, using the average of those organizations’ most recent publicly-reported results.
The Board of Directors of the CPD convened today to apply the criteria. Of the many declared candidates, four candidates presently satisfy the first two criteria: Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein.
With respect to the third criterion, on August 15, 2016, CPD announced the five polls it would rely upon, which were selected with the professional advice of Dr. Frank Newport, Editor-in-Chief of Gallup. The polls were selected based on: the reliable frequency of polling and sample size used by the polling organization; the soundness of the survey methodology employed by the polling organization; and the longevity and reputation of the polling organization. The five selected polls are: ABC-Washington Post; CBS-New York Times; CNN-Opinion Research Corporation; Fox News; and NBC-Wall Street Journal.
With the assistance of Dr. Newport, the Board determined that the polling averages called for in the third criterion are as follows: Hillary Clinton (43%), Donald Trump (40.4%), Gary Johnson (8.4%) and Jill Stein (3.2%). Accordingly, Hillary Clinton and her running mate, Tim Kaine, and Donald Trump and his running mate, Mike Pence, qualify to participate in the September 26 presidential debate and the October 4 vice-presidential debate, respectively. No other candidates satisfied the criteria for inclusion in the September 26 and October 4 debates. The criteria will be reapplied to all candidates in advance of the second and third presidential debates.
Johnson issued a statement via Facebook expressing his disappointment with the CPD’s decision:
I would say I am surprised that the CPD has chosen to exclude me from the first debate, but I’m not. After all, the Commission is a private organization created 30 years ago by the Republican and Democratic parties for the clear purpose of taking control of the only nationally-televised presidential debates voters will see. At the time of its creation, the leaders of those two parties made no effort to hide the fact that they didn’t want any third party intrusions into their shows.
The only time a third candidate has been allowed on the stage was 1992, when both parties wanted him on the stage for their own purposes. It should be noted that, when Perot was allowed on the stage, polls showed his support to be in single digits, below where Johnson and Weld are currently polling.
The CPD may scoff at a ticket that enjoys ‘only’ 9 or 10% in their hand-selected polls, but even 9% represents 13 million voters, more than the total population of Ohio and most other states. Yet, the Republicans and Democrats are choosing to silence the candidate preferred by those millions of Americans.
Americans are tired of rigged systems, and the monopoly on debates created by the CPD is a prime and skillfully executed example.
Bill Weld and I will continue to fight to provide a voice and an alternative for independents, disenfranchised Republicans and Democrats, Millennials and others who aren’t satisfied with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as their options.
It is unfortunate that the CPD doesn’t believe such a voice should be heard. There are more polls and more debates, and we plan to be on the debate stage in October.
A “Let Gary Debate” Facebook overlay has been created to aid the “fight to provide a voice and an alternative” and get Johnson onto the stage for later presidential debates.