Numbers Are In: Now We Know Who Could Make the Stage for First GOP Primary Debate of 2024

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The first Republican primary debate of 2024 is fast approaching, and will take place on August 23 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Who’s going to be on the stage to take part in it? That depends on who you ask.


For one thing, getting an invitation to stand behind of those coveted podiums might be a challenge for some of the lower tiered candidates, based on the fact that the Republican National Committee (RNC)’s criteria to make the stage are steep, as we wrote last week:

Of course, few will meet the requirements to appear in the party’s debates, the first of which will be held in August and hosted by Fox News in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

As previously reported, the Republican National Committee (RNC) set the requisites as follows:

In addition to meeting the standard candidate qualification legal requirements, participants must meet the following:

Candidates must poll at one percent (at least) in three national polls or two national and one early state polls. (Further stipulations regarding the polls include a minimum of 800 likely Republican voters surveyed and that the polls not be conducted by a polling company affiliated with a candidate or candidate committee.

Candidates must have a minimum of 40,000 unique donors, with at least 200 unique donors per state or territory in 20-plus states and/or territories.

Candidates must sign a pledge agreeing not to participate in any non-RNC-sanctioned debate for the remainder of the election cycle, a pledge agreeing to support the eventual party nominee, and the RNC data-sharing agreement.


But will former President Donald Trump agree to be there? Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie opined recently that Trump can’t help himself and will most likely attend all of the debates, as RedState’s Joe Cunningham wrote. But Trump’s campaign says he hasn’t decided yet.

Meanwhile, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis committed to showing up to the first debate of the primary, during an interview Thursday on Fox News, saying:

I’ll be there regardless. I hope everybody who’s eligible comes.

I think it’s an important part of the process, and I look forward to being able to be on the stage and introducing our candidacy and our vision and our leadership to a wide audience.

Though some candidates have sent in their RSVPs and some have not, what do the numbers say, just over a month out? Let’s look at the reports on those RNC benchmarks, which are rolling in from some of the campaigns: (emphasis mine)

The Republican National Committee, which is organizing all the GOP presidential nominating debates, is requiring a high donor threshold as well as polling thresholds for candidates to make the stage.

Trump and DeSantis officials — along with the presidential campaigns of former ambassador and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, and biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy — have said they’ve hit the thresholds.


No word yet on the other contenders, but the money haul for the second quarter of fundraising in 2023 is mounting for the two leaders, Fox News reported:

DeSantis was interviewed on the Fox News Channel hours after his campaign announced that the Florida governor hauled in $20 million during the first six weeks of his presidential bid. […]

Word of DeSantis fundraising haul, which was first reported by Fox News Digital, came a day after Trump’s team reported that the former president’s campaign and Save America, his political action committee, together brought in over $35 million during the April-June second quarter of 2023 political fundraising.

With numbers like those this far out from the 2024 election, things will only get more heated from here. We promise to keep you posted on who else might join the stage in August.


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