Kentucky Senator Rand Paul will almost certainly fail to qualify for the primetime stage at next Tuesday's fifth Republican primary debate, according to an analysis of poll data conducted by Bloomberg. Paul has been included in all four of the main presidential debates to this point in the campaign.
To qualify for the CNN-sponsored primetime debate, candidates must average at least 3.5 percent support nationally or 4 percent in either Iowa or New Hampshire, based on major polls conducted between Oct. 29 and Dec. 13.
Paul said Friday that he hoped that his campaign would receive the same consideration that Carly Fiorina did after the first debate that put her on the main stage in subsequent contests.
"If they give us the same treatment that Carly Fiorina was given the last time, and that you measure from debate to debate, we actually do meet the criteria already," the Kentucky senator told Eric Bolling on Fox News. "So, we will have those discussions and we will see what comes from it."
Fiorina also came close to being left out of the main debate, but clears CNN’s entry criteria thanks to her 4.6 percent showing in New Hampshire. Assuming one more eligible Granite State poll by the Sunday deadline, Fiorina would need to fall below 1 percent to lose her spot onstage.
Paul falls short on all three thresholds, but comes closest in Iowa, where he currently averages 3.5 percent support. If only one additional poll is released in each category by Sunday, Paul would need a relatively ambitious 6 percent in Iowa, 8 percent in New Hampshire or 10.5 percent nationally to qualify.
"We hope that we are treated fairly," Paul said. "I have every expectation that I will be treated fairly.
"We want the same and equal treatment that other candidates have gotten in the past," he added. "We have a first-tier campaign — and we don't plan on being labeled by the mainstream media as anything less."
Given candidates' current positions and the likely pace of new polls, the only other contender expected to cross the primetime-undercard boundary is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who, despite weaker national numbers than Paul, has fought his way back into the main event with a strong 6.8 percent average in recent New Hampshire polls.
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