The first debate among Republican contenders for the 2016 presidential race is to take place on Thursday night, with 10 Grand Old Party (GOP) candidates appearing live in a prime time broadcast from Cleveland, Ohio’s Quicken Loans Arena in an event hosted by Fox News, Facebook and the Ohio Republican Party.
The first of the 12 official Republican presidential debates is to be aired on Thursday between 9-11pm EDT (1-3am GMT on Friday) on Fox News Channel as well as Fox News’ Radio, Mobile and online outlets.
Ten of the 17 Republican candidates, selected by “an average of the five most recent national polls” as specified by Fox News, will take the prime time spot while the remaining seven candidates will participate in a debate dubbed as “the kids’ table” earlier on the same stage.
The top 10 candidates in order of popularity are Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, and John Kasich.
The following seven candidates who will be on television at 5:00pm EDT (9:00pm GMT) are Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, and Jim Gilmore.
The selections were made by taking an average of 2,400 interviews within five polls conducted by Bloomberg, CBS, Fox News, Monmouth University, and Quinnipiac University. Fox News was criticised by the media as well as some candidates and pollsters because of their approach.
Fox took what is considered a small sample with respect to the US electorate - more than 200 million voters - and averaged polls that used different methodology. Moreover, the standard deviation of a few percentage points in these polls made all the difference to the GOP presidential hopefuls. However, Trump, Bush and Walker lead in all.
Donald J. Trump, the real estate mogul, is the leading figure in Republican primary polls, with an average of 23.4 percent. Known for his controversial, seemingly unscripted comments, he is likely to attract many viewers to the debate.
Jeb Bush, a two-term Florida governor from a family with two former presidents - his father George H.W. Bush and his brother George W. Bush - is trailing Trump by eleven percentage points in the polls at 12 percent.
Two-term Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is considered a solid candidate coming third in polls garnering popularity among Republicans with his anti-union stance and his rejection of Obamacare.
The other candidates are in a tighter race with average poll numbers ranging from 6.6 percent to 3.2 percent.