Oct. 8, 2015

CPD Delays Releasing Debate Criteria as Polling Criteria is Called Into Question and Gallup Editor-in-Chief Drops Bombshell

WASHINGTON, Oct. 8, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is being release by Level the Playing Field:

The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) has been under tremendous pressure for more than a year to open up the presidential debates to include an independent choice. Prominent Americans from both political parties have pleaded with the CPD to 1) stop using biased and unfair polling criteria, and 2) announce their criteria in sufficient time for an independent to mount a serious campaign.

Frank Fahrenkopf, the former RNC chair and co-chairman of the CPD has repeatedly promised the American people that the CPD would announce its polling criteria for 2016 a full year in advance of the debates. Critics have told him for months that is too late, because all Democrat and Republican candidates know the rules of the road about debate access at least a year before that. But now even his own deadline has passed.

Monday night we learned why.

A bombshell has dropped in the polling world. Gallup's Editor-in-Chief has said that his organization will not conduct polls for the presidential primaries in this election cycle and may not engage in general election tracking polls next year.

What makes Gallup's decision to skip presidential polling all the more shocking is that Gallup's Editor-in-Chief, Frank Newport, is the very same pollster that the CPD has employed since 2000 to implement its polling debate criteria. He's also the man who recently testified under oath in support of the CPD's exclusive use of polling by saying the following:

"Public polling is by far the best method of measuring a candidate's support among the electorate prior to Election Day. Polling involves a scientific process through which polling experts seek to determine, mathematically, the best estimate of the public sentiment on a particular topic at a specific point in time…The science of public polling is constantly evolving as the methodology continues to improve."

Mr. Newport's revelation contradicting his sworn testimony puts the CPD in a quandary and explains its nearly two week delay in releasing its official 2016 eligibility criteria.
What is the CPD going to do? Get another pollster to disagree with Gallup? How can that possibly be credible?

The CPD's only alternative is to consider the advice of the 50 distinguished Americans who have said in letters and Op-eds the CPD must move away from polling to a national competition deciding one winner six months before the election. This would give the winning independent enough time to develop sufficient name recognition to compete with the Democratic and Republican nominees.

The CPD has resisted the suggestions proposed by these distinguished Americans by showcasing Newport's claims about the viability of polling. Those claims have been completely undermined by yesterday's announcement.

It is inexcusable for the CPD to continue to run out the clock on independent candidacies by delaying the release of its criteria. No independent candidate can mount an effective presidential campaign without knowing the fall debates will be open to him or her.
Not only has the promised deadline passed, but the rules the CPD has used since 2000 for exclusion of independent candidates are no longer supportable.

It's clear that polling – whatever the numerical threshold – no longer meets the proper standing for determining debate access – if it ever did.

CONTACT: Cara McCormick, Level the Playing Field