As everyone has come to expect by now, Donald Trump maintains a firm grip on the lead position in the polls ahead of Saturday night’s Republican presidential debate in Manchester, New Hampshire. The debate takes place just days before the New Hampshire primary election, so the candidates performances will be particularly important for giving voters a last impression before they cast their ballots.
ABC News will host just one debate, marking the first time in the 2016 election cycle that there will be no “junior varsity” or undercard event. To participate in the debate, candidates must have finished in the top-three in the Iowa caucuses or in the top six either nationally or in New Hampshire polls.
Carly Fiorina is the only major candidate left in the GOP race who did not meet these requirements, and despite a push from Fiorina’s campaign and several prominent Republicans, ABC News announced Thursday it would not change its rules to allow her to participate.
As of Thursday evening when ABC announced its lineup, Trump stood with an average of 33.6 percent nationally, according to Real Clear Politics, while Texas Sen. Ted Cruz had 20.4 percent and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio had 12.2 percent. Ben Carson held 8.2 percent and all other candidates in the field stood at less than 5 percent.
In New Hampshire, Rubio has shot up in the polls after his strong third place finish in the Iowa caucuses and subsequent influx of establishment endorsements. Trump still leads there with an average of 32.5 percent support, but Rubio has 14.3 percent to put him in second place. Ahead of Saturday’s debate, here is where all the candidates stand in the Granite State, according to Real Clear Politics.
Trump — 32.5 percent
Rubio — 14.3 percent
Cruz — 12 percent
John Kasich — 11 percent
Jeb Bush — 10 percent
Chris Christie — 5.3 percent
Fiorina — 3.5 percent
Carson — 2.8 percent