Gated Out of the Horse Race

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Monday, September 26 will mark the first presidential debate of the 2016 presidential race. The debate will be held at Hofstra University in Long Island, New York. This year, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald J. Trump are the only two candidates who will be debating on Monday.

The Commission on Presidential Debates (CDP) requires that only candidates that poll past the 15% threshold can debate at the first presidential debate. To explain the threshold and provide perspective, Frank Fahrenkopf, the co-chairman of the CDP, asked, “If you are not at 15 percent, do you really have a chance of getting elected?”

The third party candidates of this election season both failed to cross the threshold. According to data collected by RealClearPolitics, Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party polled at 8.4% while Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party averaged 3.2%.

In 2012, Dr. Jill Stein and her running mate, Cheri Honkala, also failed to poll past the threshold and were arrested at Hofstra University when they both attempted to enter the debate site.

“Well, we’re here to stand our ground,” claimed Stein before she and Honkala were arrested. “We’re here to stand ground for the American people, who have been systematically locked out of these debates for decades by the Commission on Presidential Debates.”

Stein said in a statement that she plans to show up at Hofstra University on Monday, but with a hundred of supporters this time.

Libertarian nominee Johnson also expressed his displeasure with being denied a spot and podium at the first debate.

“The CPD may scoff at a ticket that enjoys ‘only’ 9 or 10% in their hand-selected polls, but even 9% represents 13 million voters, more than the total population of Ohio and most other states. Yet, the Republicans and Democrats are choosing to silence the candidate preferred by those millions of Americans,” Johnson pointed out in a statement. “Americans are tired of rigged systems, and the monopoly on debates created by the CPD is a prime and skillfully executed example.”

Despite these comments made by Stein and Johnson, the first presidential debate will still proceed as a two-nominee debate on Monday, September 26. The debates will be aired by C-SPAN, Fox, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, CNN and MSNBC. A livestream will also be available on ABC News’ website.

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