The fourth Republican presidential debate Tuesday night will feature just eight candidates on the main stage, while four candidates will face off in the earlier undercard debate. The change in lineup from previous debates did not occur because more candidates have dropped out of the race, but rather because of the new debate criteria.
Fox Business Network and the Wall Street Journal will host the Nov. 10 debate at Milwaukee Theater in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In order to make the main stage, candidates had to receive at least 2.5 percent support in the four most recent national polls by Nov. 4. The candidates who qualified are: celebrity billionaire Donald Trump, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
Those who missed the cutoff for the primetime showdown had to receive at least 1 percent in one of the four polls to participate in the earlier debate. This means that South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and former New York Gov. George Pataki will not compete at all due to their low polling.
The four most recent polls before the Nov. 4 deadline were conducted by Fox News, Quinnipiac, NBC/Wall Street Journal and CBS/New York Times. Both Christie and Huckabee averaged 2.25 percent in these polls, missing the cut off by one fourth of a percent.
Christie, who has done particularly well in previous debates, reacted to the news on Twitter saying he would still bring his A-game to Milwaukee.
— Chris Christie (@ChrisChristie) November 6, 2015
Graham stood out in recent debates for providing humor at the smaller undercard debate and also for criticizing the other candidates about their lack of foreign policy experience. Upon the news of his exclusion, other Republicans, including Bush, spoke out on social media in support of the South Carolina senator.
Disagree with debate rules that prevent @Grahamblog's voice from being heard - his foreign policy message is an important one in particular
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) November 6, 2015
Despite thenarrow field on stage, the arrangement of the candidates will look pretty similar to CNBC’s debate. Trump and Carson remain on top of the polls, so they will occupy center stage, as they did for the Oct. 28 debate. The even number of candidates means they will each be flanked by three opponents: Rubio, Bush and Kasich on Trump’s right and Cruz, Fiorina, and Paul on Carson's left.