The second round of the Republican primary debates will be held Wednesday night at the Ronald Reagan library in Simi Valley, California. The field of Republican presidential candidates stands at 16 after Rick Perry suspended his campaign.
There was some controversy over CNN's qualification rules to make the main debate, forcing CNN to later change its criteria to allow any candidate who made the top 10 in an average of polls conducted after the Fox News debate on August 6. Carly Fiorina is the only candidate to move from the B-List debate to the main stage.
The candidates who will appear at the 8pm ET/5pm PT debate include (in order of polling rank):
- Donald Trump (27.8%)
- Ben Carson (14%)
- Jeb Bush (9.2%)
- Ted Cruz (7.4%)
- Scott Walker (5.6%)
- Marco Rubio (5.4%)
- Carly Fiorina (4.4%)
- Mike Huckabee (4.4%)
- John Kasich (3.6%)
- Rand Paul (3.2%)
- Chris Christie (2.8%)
There are 11 candidates in the main debate since Carly Fiorina and Mike Huckabee are tied at 4.4 percent.
Those candidates appearing in the earlier debate at 6 pm ET/3 pm PT include (in order of rank):
- Rick Santorum (0.8%)
- Bobby Jindal (0.56%)
- George Pataki (0.44%)
- Lindsey Graham (0.28%)
The first round of GOP debates did not feature as much substantive discussion as many would have liked, most likely due to time limits and the amount of candidates. Now, there are 11 candidates in the prime time debate and only 4 candidates in the undercard debate.
Once again, the earlier debate might feature more substantive discussion and debate.
Moderator Jake Tapper says his goal is to increase the amount of actual debate between the candidates.
"What the team and I have been doing is trying to craft questions that, in most cases, pit candidates against the other - specific candidates on the stage - on issues where they disagree, whether it's policy, or politics, or leadership. Let's actually have them discuss and debate," Tapper told Brian Stelter on CNN.
CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash and radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt will join Tapper as moderators.
The first GOP debate on Fox News garnered 24 million live viewers, unprecedented in previous primary debates. CNN expects tonight's debate to attract the largest viewership since the 1993 debate between Vice President Al Gore and Ross Perot, which had 16.8 million viewers.
In 2008 and 2012, only 4 to 5 million viewers watched the first few primary debates. The increase in viewership is most likely due to candidates like Donald Trump making headlines, but either way, if more people are paying attention, the better.
Let's hope tonight the candidates focus on issue-driven answers as opposed to personal attacks.
Photo Credit: CNN