Monday night’s Iowa caucus is behind us, and the focus turns to January 9’s New Hampshire primary. The candidates will have one more chance to improve their standing with New Hampshire voters at a debate Saturday, February 6 starting at 8 p.m. Eastern. While ABC will announce the lineup Thursday, they announced their criteria January 27, under which a candidate qualifies by any of the following means:
1) Place among the top three candidates ranked according to the popular vote in the Iowa Republican caucuses on Feb. 1, 2016. (OR)
2) Place among the top six candidates in an average of New Hampshire Republican presidential polls recognized by ABC News. To be included, polls must be conducted no earlier than Jan. 1, 2016, and must be released to the public before 5 p.m. ET on Feb. 4, 2016. Poll averages will not be rounded. (OR)
3) Place among the top six candidates in an average of national Republican presidential polls recognized by ABC News. To be included, polls must be conducted no earlier than Jan. 1, 2016, and must be released to the public before 5 p.m. ET on Feb. 4, 2016. Poll averages will not be rounded.
The first criterion guarantees a spot for Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Donald Trump (who admitted that his decision to skip the last debate may have hurt him in the Iowa caucus). Under the second, John Kasich, Chris Christie, and Jeb Bush also qualify. Ben Carson qualifies under the third criterion, but it’s unclear whether he will participate, as he plans to skip New Hampshire to focus on campaigning in South Carolina.
A change from previous debates: ABC News is eliminating the undercard, meaning that candidates who do not qualify for the main stage will not participate in the debate. Of the previous undercard candidates, all have either qualified for the main stage or dropped out except for Jim Gilmore and Carly Fiorina.
David Muir and Martha Raddatz will moderate, along with WMUR political director Josh McElveen.