Carly Fiorina’s presidential campaign criticized CNN and the Republican National Committee on Wednesday for “rigging the game to keep Carly off the main debate stage.” CNN will host a Republican presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, on Sept. 16.
Fiorina’s campaign – and her poll numbers – saw an enormous boost after the former Hewlett-Packard CEO’s breakout performance in the Aug. 6 “happy hour” GOP debate on Fox News. Because CNN is planning to use polling from before the Fox debate -- including the polls from July 16 through Sept. 10 -- to determine which top 10 contenders take the prime-time slot for the CNN debate, deputy campaign manager Sarah Isgur Flores contended it's disadvantaging Fiorina.
The “political establishment” is “ignoring grassroots Republicans,” she argued in a memo posted online and emailed to reporters on Wednesday.
The crux of Flores' argument is that there haven't been as many polls taken since the Fox debate as there were before, so the polls from before the debate are weighing heavier in the CNN calculation than those taken more recently.
There have been just two polls in the three weeks since the Fox debate. In the three weeks before that debate, there were nine polls, according to NBC News' tally. If the cutoff for the top 10 were today, Fiorina wouldn’t make the cut.
“If the RNC won’t tell CNN to treat post-debate polling consistently with pre-debate polling, they are putting their thumb on the scale and choosing to favor candidates with higher polling for three weeks in July over candidates with measurable momentum in August and September,” Flores said. Fiorina’s post-debate boost has helped her attract bigger crowds in early voting states where Fiorina is concentrating her relentless campaign schedule, and she has seen an even bigger polling boost there too.
Fiorina addressed the polling discrepancy Wednesday on MSNBC's “Morning Joe.”
“We don’t have national primaries, we have statewide primaries,” Fiorina said. “There’s loads of state polls, they all say the same thing – that I’m in the top five.”
She continued: “What I’m doing is what I’ve been doing -- taking advantage of every opportunity I’m given and get out there and talk to as many voters as I can, eyeball to eyeball, hear personally what their concerns are and answer every question they have.”
Fiorina has all-but dropped her stump speech in Iowa recently, instead using whatever time she’s given to speak to answer questions.