It’s long been thought early presidential polls don’t mean a lot...but this summer, they will, because the top 10 Republicans will get to participate in the first debate August 6.
Quinnipiac University’s poll offered a top 10 list Thursday, which if nothing else showed how much the list could change in the next few months.
It found a five-way tie for first. At 10 percent each are former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
Next came U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky at 7 percent, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas at 6 percent, business executive Donald Trump at 5 percent, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at 4 percent and former executive Carly Fiorina and Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 2 percent each. Walker, Trump, Christie and Kasich have not formally entered the race but are expected to do so.
Out of the top 10, at least for now, are some familiar Republican names, including former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who announced his candidacy Wednesday, and former New York Gov. George Pataki, who announced Thursday. Also off the list are former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Both plan announcements next week. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal also is below the top 10.
“Safe to say, the 2016 Republican presidential primary is anyone’s race. With no front-runner and identical numbers for the top five contenders, it’s a horserace which can only be described as a scrambled field – at least so far,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.
A Fox News poll earlier May 9-12 had a slightly different top 10: Bush, Carson, Walker, Huckabee, Rubio, Paul, Christie, Cruz,and Trump. Tied for the last spot were Kasich, Perry and Santorum.
To qualify for the first debate, a candidate “must place in the top 10 of an average of the five most recent national polls, as recognized by Fox News leading up to August 4th at 5 PM/ET. Such polling must be conducted by major, nationally recognized organizations that use standard methodological techniques,” according to Fox, which along with Facebook, is presenting the first debate August 6.
The second debate Sept. 16 will have two parts. The top 10 will debate, and a second forum will include those excluded from the first but who have at least 1 percent in polls.