SC GOP presidential debate field finalized

Dave Weigel reports:

Herman Cain, former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza
Gary Johnson, former Governor of New Mexico
Ron Paul, U.S. Representative from Texas
Tim Pawlenty, former Governor of Minnesota
Rick Santorum, former Senator from Pennsylvania

Buddy Roemer and Fred Karger were denied access to the debate because they have not pulled 1% in five national polls. By excluding both Roemer and Karger, the South Carolina Republican Party probably avoided a lawsuit by the Karger campaign.

Yesterday I doubted whether Gary Johnson has polled 1% in five national polls. Here’s what I’ve found from this year’s national Republican presidential primary polling:

Fox News, 4/25-4/27: Gary Johnson – 1%
Gallup, 4/15-4/20: Gary Johnson – 0%
McClatchy-Marist, 4/10-4/14: Gary Johnson – not polled
PPP, 4/7-4/10: Gary Johnson – not polled
CNN/Opinion Research, 4/9-4/10: Gary Johnson – not polled
Fox News, 4/3-4/5: Gary Johnson – 1%
Gallup, 3-18-3/22: Gary Johnson – 2%
CNN/Opinion Research, 3/11-3/13: Gary Johnson – not polled
PPP, 3/10-3/13: Gary Johnson – not polled
NBC/WSJ, 2/24-2/28: Gary Johnson – not polled
Gallup 2/18-2/20: Gary Johnson – 1%
PPP, 11/19-11/21/10: Gary Johnson – not polled
Gallup, 11/13-11/14/10: Gary Johnson – 1%

Looking at this list, Johnson has been polled in six national polls, registering as high as 2% in one poll and as low as 0% in another. Gallup and Fox are the only polling outfits that have polled Johnson, with his average across those six polls at 1%. But he isn’t being polled elsewhere and he is at 0% in the latest Gallup poll. By the rules of the SC GOP, Johnson is qualified for the debate. Of course in the same time frame that it takes to find five polls with Johnson at 1%, there are six other polls which don’t even include Johnson. Obviously the SC GOP has excluded these polls from consideration of Johnson’s average, but it certainly doesn’t make for a strong case for Johnson being a viable, national candidate, with poll-proven following.

Given the field that they’ve chosen and the standards they’ve set forth, I don’t have a problem with the SC GOP’s debate moving forward. They’re applying their rules evenly. But I do think the weakness of the field and the fact that the top five Republican candidates have not yet declared or, in Mitt Romney’s case declined to attend, the entire debate should have been postponed, as the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation debate was postponed, due to the absence of a “full slate of candidates to participate.” What the SC GOP will have instead is a field of small, unknown, unpopular, and uncompetitive candidates. Evidently that’s good enough for the SC GOP, so who am I to disagree?

Matt Browner-Hamlin is a blogger & political strategist based in Washington, DC. He has written about US politics since 2004. He's worked on presidential and Senate campaigns, in the labor movement and the Tibetan independence movement. He is the founder of and currently spends much of his time fighting Wall Street banks. Matt on Google+, and his .

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