#NCSEN: Could Mark Harris be cut from TV debates?

harrisTime Warner News and McClatchy are sponsoring a GOP primary debate on April 22.  WRAL has one slated for April 23.  Charlotte pastor — and former Southern Baptist Convention president — Mark Harris has been touted in the media as a leading contender for the GOP nomination. But the rules established for these upcoming televised debates may put him at risk of not being allowed to participate.

For example, take this passage from the Time Warner News debate rules:

Candidate Eligibility

Eligibility to participate in the event will be based on the following criteria:

  • The candidate must average at least 7 percent voter preference in polling conducted by at least three news organizations or independent research firms chosen by the sponsoring news organizations. We will use the flat poll numbers (no margin of error) when computing the averages.

The Civitas Poll released March 24 had Harris at 9 percent in the primary.  The March 20 poll by WRAL had him at 6 percent.  The PPP poll released March 10 had Harris at 7 percent.  If those numbers are rounded up to whole numbers, and you average them, Harris comes in at an average of 7.333 percent.  (Who knows if the debate committee will choose those three polls?) 

Greg Brannon, Thom Tillis, and Heather Grant appear to be safe for making the cut.