Three days ago NBC’s Chuck Todd was quoted in a story (in Politico) saying this about the likely criteria for the October 28 Republican Primary debate:
"You can do it a couple different ways. I don't believe in setting a number. I think maybe you come up with 'oh are you at 5 percent or more in Iowa or New Hampshire' you can create a sort of floor, no more 4-percenters get in, no more 3-percenters get in."
Frankly, that is a pretty logical statement from Chuck Todd in my opinion. After all, Iowa and New Hampshire are the first places where the actual voters will have a say in the process.
So today of course, on an RNC conference call with campaigns, CNBC announced their criteria for the main debate would NOT include anything about the early states.
Instead, they have opted for 3% nationally, and for the undercard debate 1% nationally. So much for Iowa and New Hampshire, they don’t matter now apparently. And so much for the “no more 3-percenters”.
What happened to the notion of measuring candidate progress in the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire? Did they somehow become irrelevant in the last three days?
What was the RNC’s role in this? When pressed on that question by one of the campaigns (not Jindal’s) the RNC would only say that these are CNBC’s criteria, and the RNC spokesman refused to answer a follow up question about the RNC’s involvement in setting the criteria.
And don’t forget this, a few days ago the RNC Chairman floated the idea of getting rid of the current early state process in favor of large regional primaries. Perhaps they long for the idea of a just a national primary which would enable candidates to not have to actually go out and mingle with real voters, making it easier for an establishment candidate who has the most money to simply purchase the nomination with a blizzard of advertising.
The genius of our current process is that it forces candidates to run the gauntlet, it forces candidates to actually meet with voters, it forces candidates to prove over time that they have the dexterity to withstand the rigors of winning a general election. That should be the true winnowing process. We do not have a national primary today, so measuring only national polls is absurd and illogical. Other than that, it makes perfect sense.