Using the polls to cull the large field of Republican candidates for debates is a mistake, since it did not need to be done. The networks could have randomly selected two samples from the field instead of holding first-tier and second-tier debates.
If polls have to be used, though, they should at least be recent polls. We know that public opinion about the candidates has changed since July: that the pattern of results in more recent polls differs from the pattern of polls then because opinion has changed, and not because of chance.
Yet CNN’s announced methodology will yield just that result if it is not changed. It is using an average of selected polls taken since mid-July to select its top ten candidates. More of those polls were taken before than after the August 6 debate in which Carly Fiorina broke out. So while Fiorina is in the top ten in recent polls, by CNN’s criteria she would be left out of the main debate.
There’s no way to defend keeping her out of the network’s September 16 debate because she was not in the top ten two months beforehand. So the main counterargument being made is that it would be unfair to change the rules a few weeks before the debate. But fairness to voters should matter more than fairness to candidates, and voters appear to prefer Fiorina to whichever candidate she would be bumping.
RELATED: Carly Deserves to Be in Debate
Fiorina makes a strong case that she ought to be allowed to participate in the next debate. CNN should relent.