Every four years there seems to be a controversy over who does and does not get invited to participate in the presidential debates. The general rule of thumb seems to end up being that folks get to participate if they're running at over 5% in the polls.
But how do you decide who gets to be in the polls? That's question I'm wrestling with this week.
Since we did our last statewide tracking poll there have been new entrants to the Governor's race on both the Democratic and Republican sides. The new Republican is Elbie Powers, a Sampson County pecan farmer. Mr. Powers ran for Agriculture Commissioner in 2000 and finished last in a six candidate Republican primary. The new Democrat is Dennis Nielsen. He lost to A.B. Swindell running as a Republican for the state senate in 2004. The front page of his campaign site features an essay titled 'Hookers and Pimps may be more trusted that (sic) some candidates.'
It's hard to take either of these guys very seriously. But we included another fringe candidate, Democrat John Ross Hendrix in our Senate poll earlier this month. He was the choice of 8% of the respondents. By means of comparison John McCain had 8% and Bob Orr had 7% in our presidential and gubernatorial polls, and we wouldn't consider dropping them from our polls.
We're doing our poll next week and I really don't know whether to add Powers and Nielsen or not. If you have an opinion leave a comment or feel free to send me an email.