Fox News is broadcasting the first debate of the campaign for the GOP nomination on August 6th. According to the network, only the top 10 candidates, determined by an average of polls on August 4th will participate.
Surprisingly, the biggest loser of the Fox rule may be New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
A new poll from Monmouth University finds Christie losing support among Republican voters since formally announcing his entry into the race. While the drop is within the margin of error, it would seemingly mark the first time a major candidate lost ground since announcing.
It wasn’t that long ago that Christie was considered a frontrunner for the nomination. Just a year ago, Robert Costa, with The Washington Post said the Governor was “poised to reclaim” the top spot among Republican contenders.
Since then, however, according to the latest Monmouth poll, Christie’s favorable ratings have gone negative with Republican voters. At the end of last year, Christie had a net-positive rating. Today, though, he has a net negative 20 point rating with voters. Even in the few weeks since he announced his candidacy, his favorable ratings have ticked down and his negative ratings have ticked up.
Traditionally, a candidate’s formal announcement provides some positive boost in his poll standing.
With the first voting in the nomination contest more than five months away, the up-and-down movement in daily or weekly polls might only be of interest to political junkies. Several months is an eternity in politics and a seasoned campaigner like Christie could begin to build support at the retail level.
The looming Fox debate and its restrictive rules, though, could potentially knock several campaigns out early. Christie is currently 10th in the RealClearPolitics average of polls. At 2 percent support, Christie is just a single point ahead of Rick Santorum and Carly Fiorina.
The recent poll surge by Donald Trump, coupled with steady support for Dr. Ben Carson and a quietly strengthening Rick Perry are crowding out the final places for the Fox debate. If these three stay where they are or even consolidate their support, Christie or even Marco Rubio, who has stalled in recent polling, could find themselves out of the August event.
Although Fox’s imprint won’t decide necessarily the Republican nominee, its restrictive rules may decide who gets to compete for it.