— -- Ten candidates. Two hours. One goal: survive the first Republican presidential debate.
A slate of governors, senators and other Republican presidential contenders is set to gather in Cleveland to debate each other for the first time this election cycle. Donald Trump has solidified his lead over the GOP pack, leading Jeb Bush by at least 11 percentage points in the last four recent national polls.
Fox News will host the debate this Thursday at 9 p.m. Eastern Time for the newly-unveiled candidates who are polling in the top 10 in an average of five recent national polls.
Here’s who's in and who's out:
WHO'S ON THE STAGE?
These seven candidates will participate in a separate, one-hour forum at 5 p.m. on Thursday.
Current frontrunner and real estate mogul Donald Trump, who will be center stage for the debate, is leading the GOP field with 23 percent support. Trump is followed by former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin governor Scott Walker. Others on the stage include neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. The last two podiums belong to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who narrowly took 10th place after a late uptick in the polls.
But some major names won’t be on stage, including the 2012 winner of the Iowa caucuses, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. And Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry missed the stage by 1.4 percent.
Fox News had told the candidates that they would choose the top ten candidates based on an average of the five most recent national polls by major news organizations. But it wasn’t clear exactly which polls Fox was going to use, leaving political pundits to play a guessing game over the last week, calculating who would be in the debate and who would be left off based on every new poll. An influx of four polls in the 36 hours before the deadline solidified the top 10.
Fox News used the following polls in their analysis: CBS News on 8/4; Bloomberg on 8/4; Fox News on 8/3; Monmouth University on 8/3; Quinnipiac on 7/30. Fox left out a poll from NBC/WSJ on 8/2.