CNBC confirmed Wednesday that there will be two events for the next Republican debate, an undercard debate and then the main stage of top-tier candidates. The announcement comes after some candidates expressed concern that CNBC would not follow a similar format as CNN and Fox News.
The CNBC criteria reads:
National polls will be used to determine a candidate's eligibility and placement on the stage. To be eligible to appear in either segment, a candidate must have at least 1% in any one of the methodologically sound and recognized national polls conducted by: NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, CNN and Bloomberg, released between September 17, 2015 and October 21, 2015. To appear in the 8pm debate a candidate must have an average of 3% among these polls. The polls will be averaged and will be rounded up to 3% for any candidate with a standing of 2.5% or higher. Candidates who average below that will be invited to the 6pm debate.
Looking at the current Real Clear Politics polling average for the GOP candidates, it is difficult to speculate what this will do with the Republican field.
However, just looking at polls that are included in CNBC's criteria, U.S. Senator Rand Paul is in the most danger of not being included on the main stage and may have to sit at the kids' table with Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, George Pataki, and Lindsey Graham.
There is a very real and likely possibility that the main stage will feature less candidates than the first two debates.
The third Republican debate is scheduled for Wednesday, October 28, and will focus on the economy, jobs, and retirement. Both segments will be moderated by CNBC anchors John Harwood, Carl Quintanilla and Becky Quick.