Jill Stein And Gary Johnson Fail To Qualify For First Presidential Debate, Do The Debate Rules Need To Be Changed?

The first presidential debate will take place on September 26, and will feature the Democrat candidate, Hillary Clinton, and the Republican candidate, Donald Trump. Normally, the Democrat and the Republican parties are the only ones that people hear about during an election cycle. This year is different, though.

Gary Johnson, of the Libertarian Party, and Jill Stein, of the Green Party, are receiving some time during the daily news shows. In the past, candidates from these parties would not be given any time at all, but because Clinton and Trump are such polarizing figures, voters have been searching for other options to vote for. The New York Times is reporting that even though Johnson and Stein are acquiring a small following, it is not enough to ensure their presence on the same debate stage as Clinton and Trump.

The Commission on Presidential Debates is the governing body that makes the rules that all parties must abide by during the presidential debates. According to their rules, in order to qualify for the debate on September 26, the candidate must be polling at 15 percent or higher in five specific polls. Neither Johnson or Stein was able to meet that threshold by September 16 when the CPD issued their statement saying that the first debate would only have Clinton and Trump on stage. The commission also stated that neither Johnson’s or Stein’s VP candidates would be allowed to debate alongside Tim Kaine and Mike Pence on October 4.

“With the assistance of Dr. Newport, the Board determined that the polling averages called for in the third criterion are as follows: Hillary Clinton (43%), Donald Trump (40.4%), Gary Johnson (8.4%) and Jill Stein (3.2%). Accordingly, Hillary Clinton and her running mate, Tim Kaine, and Donald Trump and his running mate, Mike Pence, qualify to participate in the September 26 presidential debate and the October 4 vice-presidential debate, respectively. No other candidates satisfied the criteria for inclusion in the September 26 and October 4 debates. The criteria will be reapplied to all candidates in advance of the second and third presidential debates.”

The entire statement released by the CPD can be found here.

Following the first debate on September 26, the last two debates are on October 9, and October 19.

Historically, it has been very difficult, almost impossible, for a third party candidate to get enough traction going in their campaign for President of the United States to be competitive. It can be argued that this election cycle is the most difficult ever for a third party candidate to get the recognition due to the fact that Clinton and Trump have proven themselves to be experts in controlling the news cycle. Appearing on the debate stage with Trump and Clinton would have given Johnson and Stein an amount of public exposure that they have never been able to generate on their own. Many media experts are predicting that the Clinton/Trump debate could be the most watched debate in history.

Gary Johnson was disappointed when he found out he would not be invited to the September 26 debate.

“I would say that I am surprised that the C.P.D. has chosen to exclude me from the first debate, but I’m not. After all, the commission is a private organization created 30 years ago by the Republican and Democratic parties for the clear purpose of taking control of the only nationally televised presidential debates voters will see.”

According to CNN, Jill Stein plans on showing up to the debate on the 26th with “hundreds” of her supporters by her side.

“We will be at the debate to insist that Americans not only have a right to vote, but we have a right to know who we can vote for.”

It has been 24 years since a third party candidate was allowed on the debate stage and that was Ross Perot. Do you think the rules put in place by the CPD are fair? Should Gary Johnson and Jill Stein be allowed to be on the debate stage with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump?

[Featured Image By Tae-Gyun Kim/AP Photo]