Sanders and Trump Agree: 15% Debate Threshold Is 'Too High'

Created: 05 September, 2016
Updated: 17 October, 2022
2 min read


Making an appearance on NBC's Meet the Press Sunday, former Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders told host Chuck Todd that he thinks the current polling threshold to gain entry into the presidential debates is too high.

Todd: Do you think Gary Johnson should be in the debates?Sanders: Generally speaking, my view is that if people reach a certain level -- you can debate about what that level is -- I think it is, what is it? 15 percent. I think they should be in the debates.Todd: You think that mark -- that level -- that 15 percent is a fair metric?Sanders: It's probably too high.Todd: You think it should be lower?Sanders: Probably should be lower.

Sanders didn't explicitly come out and say Johnson should be included in the debates. However, he does believe that the current metric used by the debate commission should be changed. And he is not the only major presidential contender in the 2016 election cycle to say this.


In 2000, Donald Trump, now the Republican nominee for president, said the 15 percent threshold was a way for the major parties to say "they don't want anybody trying to knock off the Democrats or Republicans."

"The people who set that rule were Democrats and Republicans. It's ridiculous," he added.

IVN is publishing a series of articles on the methodology of the 5 polls used by the Commission on Presidential Debates. A closer look at the Fox News presidential polls found a drastic under-sampling of independents compared to most polls and CNN doesn't even sample Millennials -- the largest living generation and approximately a third of the electorate.

While Todd asked Sanders if he thinks the threshold is too high, perhaps a better question to ask the independent senator is if he thinks horse-race poling should be used at all. It is a game that well-respected polling organizations like Gallup and Pew Research have ditched. Maybe it is time the CPD follow suit.


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