Commission on Presidential Debates Announces Polls to be used in 2016 Candidate Selection Criteria

Aug 15, 2016



The nonpartisan, nonprofit Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) today announced the polls to be used in applying the Candidate Selection Criteria for the 2016 general election presidential and vice presidential debates.

The polls are chosen with the professional advice of Dr. Frank Newport, Editor in Chief of Gallup.

They are selected based on:

  • The reliable frequency of polling and sample size used by the polling organization
  • The soundness of the survey methodology employed by the polling organization
  • The longevity and reputation of the polling organization

The polls to be used by the CPD in 2016 are:

ABC-Washington Post
CBS-New York Times
CNN-Opinion Research Corporation
Fox News
NBC-Wall Street Journal

The CPD's 2016 Candidate Selection Criteria were announced on October 29, 2015. They will be applied in mid-September, 2016. If a candidate is invited to the first presidential debate, that person's vice presidential running mate will be invited to the vice presidential debate. The criteria will be reapplied between the first and second presidential debates and the second and third presidential debates.

The CPD's nonpartisan criteria for selecting candidates to participate in the 2016 general election presidential debates are:

  1. Evidence of Constitutional Eligibility
    The CPD's first criterion requires satisfaction of the eligibility requirements of Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution. The requirements are satisfied if the candidate:
    1. is at least 35 years of age;
    2. is a Natural Born Citizen of the United States and a resident of the United States for fourteen years; and
    3. is otherwise eligible under the Constitution.
  2. Evidence of Ballot Access
    The CPD's second criterion requires that the candidate qualify to have his/her name appear on enough state ballots to have at least a mathematical chance of securing an Electoral College majority in the 2016 general election. Under the Constitution, the candidate who receives a majority of votes in the Electoral College, at least 270 votes, is elected President regardless of the popular vote.
  3. Indicators of Electoral Support
    The CPD's third criterion requires that the candidate have a level of support of at least 15% (fifteen percent) of the national electorate as determined by five national public opinion polling organizations selected by CPD, using the average of those organizations' most recent publicly-reported results at the time of the determination.


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