Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina isn’t content to sit at the “kid’s table” of 2016 presidential pundits any longer, and on Wednesday her campaign argued why she shouldn’t during the next GOP debate hosted by CNN in September.
“Carly won the debate[s] on August 6th. In the three national polls that have been released since the debate, Carly is between 4th and 7th place. Her name ID and net favorability have risen by double digits,” Sarah Isgur Flores, Fiorina’s deputy campaign manager, wrote in a Medium post Wednesday.
“Despite being solidly in the top 10 by every measure, the political establishment is still rigging the game to keep Carly off the main debate stage next month.”
The campaign criticized the Republican National Committee for the news outlets the RNC selected to host the primary debates, including Fox News and CNN, as well as the criteria those outlets adopted to designate first and second tier debate lineups for the crowded 17-candidate field.
In the first debate earlier this month, Fox News used the last five polls prior to the debate to decide which 10 candidates would get top billing, and relegated the rest to a pre-primetime “happy hour debate.”
Fiorina, who was trailing 14th at the time, gave an undebatable top performance according to virtually every news outlet, and has since risen to tie Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for 4th place with 9 percent according to the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey, and 7th place with 5 percent according to ORC International’s most recent poll.
Those numbers aren’t enough to move Fiorina to primetime based on CNN’s criteria, which will divide candidates for first and second billing based on the average of 10 polls released between July 16 and Sept. 10. Eight of those polls were conducted prior to Fiorina’s first debate win.
That means CNN will be weighing the three weeks of polling prior to the first debate three times as heavily as the three weeks since Fiorina’s victory.
“The RNC should ask CNN to treat the polling in July the same as the polling that comes after,” Flores wrote. “Because there were nine polls released in the three weeks before the last debate, one would expect 18 polls released in the six weeks between the two debates.”
“If that does not happen, the polling average of those six weeks should be treated as the equivalent of 18 polls. Assuming the numbers remain consistent with current polling, Carly would easily place in the top 10 for the main debate.”
Since only two CNN-approved pollsters have released results since the first debate, weighing the polls since July equally is tantamount to “putting their thumb on the scale and choosing to favor candidates with higher polling for three weeks in July over candidates with measurable momentum in August and September,” according to the campaign.
“It will be interesting to see if CNN has no qualms excluding someone who is polling in the top 5 in Iowa and New Hampshire, in second place in multiple states, and well within the top 10 nationally,” Flores wrote. “And it will be disappointing if Reince Priebus and the Republican establishment stand by and let a TV network keep Carly off the main stage…again.”
Though a number of polls have yet to release new results since the first debate, including ABC News/Washington Post, Bloomberg, CBS News, Monmouth University, Quinnipiac University and others, it’s unlikely CNN will have 18 to weigh prior to the Sept. 16 debate.
Based on an average of polls that qualify now, Fiorina is in 12th place with just under 2 percent.
“I didn’t think the Fox News rules were particularly good using national polls, I don’t think the CNN rules are particularly good, especially since they go all the way back through mid-July,” Fiorina said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Wednesday. “But you know what? I don’t have any impact over the rules. I think it’s why people are losing trust in the media, frankly, and are upset in many cases with the RNC.”
“But what I’m going to do is what I’ve been doing, which is, take advantage of every opportunity I’m given, and get out there and talk to as many voters as I can, eyeball to eyeball, face to face, hear personally what their concerns are and answer every single question they have.”