No third party candidate met the 15% polling threshold to participate in the 1st debate.

If Johnson's or Stein's polling results improve before the 2nd or 3rd debates can they participate?

What are the specific dates and requirements for this?

I am not concerned with the requirement to get on enough ballots which they already meet.

  • Ross Perot was in the 1992 debates. I believe a candidate has to have at least 15% in the national poll to make it to the debates. Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 18:49
  • Just to note: It is really unfortunate for Johnson that Weld will not be able to participate in the Vice-Presidential debate. He may be the only vice-presidential candidate this time chosen for his attributes rather than his lack of serious flaws or home state.
    – kaine
    Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 21:50

1 Answer 1


According to Politico, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced on Friday 9/16 that the same requirements will be used to evaluate candidate eligibility for the 2nd and 3rd Presidential Debates:

"[T]he 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."

As far as for when they will make the determination, I imagine that it would be similar to the first. Approximately 2 weeks before each debate, the commission will look at their "five selected national public opinion polling organizations" to determine the polling eligibility requirements of the 4 candidates. Those who make the cut will be invited and the rest will not. Going over to the commission's website doesn't give exact dates.

Invitations to participate in the second and third of the CPD's scheduled presidential debates will be based upon satisfaction of the same multiple criteria prior to each debate.

Emphasis added

  • Thank you... that two weeks thing is approximate but it will do. It is based on the latest polls anyways so it isn't an instantaneous thing.
    – kaine
    Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 19:57
  • @Kaine yes, my reading of their criteria indicate that, of the polls they consider, they'll consider the most recent data available when they consider it, to which they offer no exact timeline.
    – user5155
    Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 20:10

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