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Here are the Republicans who have met requirements for the first debate

A crowded field of GOP White House contenders clamoring for the party’s nomination are expected to gather in Milwaukee next month for the party’s first presidential debate of the 2024 cycle.

But before candidates can get on the Aug. 23 debate stage, they must first qualify by meeting several requirements set by the Republican National Committee (RNC).

Candidates need at least 40,000 unique donors to their principal presidential campaign committee, including at least 200 from 20 or more states and territories each. 

The presidential contenders also must be polling at 1 percent or higher in at least three authorized national polls — or at 1 percent or higher in two national polls together with one “early state poll” from two separate “carve out” states recognized by the RNC: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. 

Perhaps the most contentious requirement is the RNC’s ask that candidates sign a loyalty pledge to support whomever becomes the eventual Republican nominee. 

Here are the Republican candidates who appear to have met the polling and donor requirements so far: 

Have met requirements

Donald Trump

Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Turning Point Action conference, Saturday, July 15, 2023, in West Palm Beach, Fla.(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Former President Trump is set to meet the polling and donor requirements for the first GOP primary showdown, but whether he will take the stage is still up for debate. 

Trump has long polled as the Republican frontrunner of the 2024 race — and his campaign and his political action committee pulled in over $35 million in the second quarter of fundraising.

He’s polled at 56, 55 and 59 percent in Morning Consult national polls this month, the latest taken last week. 

But the former president has argued that his high polling numbers means he doesn’t need to engage in the debate, suggesting he could skip the showdown.

He threatened to skip debates several times throughout his 2016 and 2020 bids for the Oval Office.

A Trump adviser earlier this month said the former president hadn’t yet made up his mind on whether to participate, but that it’s “unlikely” he takes part in at least the first two Republican presidential primary debates.

RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and several of Trump’s GOP rivals are among those pressing for him to get on the stage next month. 

Trump has also been noncommittal about taking the candidate pledge. He said back in February that his support for the eventual GOP nominee would “depend on who the nominee was.”

Ron DeSantis

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Republican presidential candidate and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during the Tennessee Republican Party Statesmen’s Dinner, Saturday, July 15, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appears to have met the polling and donor requirements to get on the debate stage. 

DeSantis has regularly polled as the top GOP contender behind Trump, and has been the only candidate other than the former president to consistently snag double-digit polling numbers in national surveys, though recent figures have showed Trump with a widening lead as DeSantis’s figures sag. 

The three Morning Consult surveys taken this month put DeSantis between 16 and 20 percent, in second place behind Trump. 

The Florida governor’s campaign also said it had already notched around 40,000 unique donors back in May, according to the New York Times. He’s raked in more than $20 million between February and the end of last month, FEC data show.

But, DeSantis has sidestepped questions about whether he’d back the eventual GOP nominee. 

The GOP in DeSantis’s home state has said it will also ask candidates to sign “word-for-word the same language” as the RNC pledge to support the eventual GOP nominee in order to get on the primary ballot in Florida.

Nikki Haley

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley addresses the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority conference in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, June 24, 2023. (The Hill/Greg Nash)

Former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley’s campaign told The Hill that the former South Carolina governor has “well over” the 40,000 unique donors required and said she’s looking forward to taking the stage. 

Haley was the first big-name Republican to join Trump in the GOP race. Earlier this month, she shrugged off a Fox News survey that showed her with 3 percent, and Trump in the lead with 56 percent, saying “national polls just don’t matter right now” in this early stage of the race. 

She polled at 4 percent in the latest two Morning Consult surveys of the GOP field. Fox Business polling from Iowa and South Carolina, both states on the RNC’s list of “carve out” states, have Haley at 5 and 14 percent, respectively.

Haley’s team has also said she’ll sign the candidate pledge. 

She said last month on X, the platform previously known as Twitter, that it’s “absolutely irresponsible that Trump, DeSantis, and others won’t commit 100% to supporting the Republican nominee.”

Vivek Ramaswamy

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy addresses the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority conference in Washington, D.C., on Friday, June 23, 2023. (The Hill/Greg Nash)

Conservative entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy’s campaign confirmed earlier this week that he has qualified for the GOP debate, meeting the donation criteria with more than 65,000 unique donors. 

The campaign has taken a unique approach to fundraising, offering commission payments to supporters who fundraise for his 2024 campaign. 

Ramaswamy’s team also said he crossed the polling threshold, citing two Morning Consult polls taken this month that placed his support at 8 percent, a Kaplan Strategies poll taken this month placing him at 12 percent and a Harvard/Harris poll this month placing him at 10 percent. 

A national poll from Echelon Insights earlier this month showed Ramaswamy’s support had ticked up, putting him in third behind DeSantis, with Trump in the lead.

Ramaswamy’s campaign also said he plans to sign the RNC’s debate pledge to back the eventual Republican nominee. 

Chris Christie

Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie

Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie addresses the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority conference in Washington, D.C., on Friday, June 23, 2023. (The Hill/Greg Nash)

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has said he’s met the RNC’s donor requirements, and it appears he’s also met the polling bar. 

“I’m glad to be able to tell people tonight, Anderson, that last night, we went past 40,000 unique donors in just 35 days,” Christie told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in an interview earlier this month. 

This month’s Morning Consult polls put Christie between 2 and 3 percent. Fox Business polling from Iowa and South Carolina put him at 3 and 2 percent, respectively.

Christie has called the RNC’s required pledge to support whoever wins the party’s nomination in 2024 a “useless idea,” saying on CNN it’s “only in the era of Donald Trump” that such a pledge is needed. 

“In all my life, we never had to have Republican primary candidates take a pledge. You know, we were Republicans, and the idea is you’d support the Republican whether you won or whether you lost, and you didn’t have to ask somebody to sign something,” Christie said. 

The former governor said on ABC that he’ll do whatever he has to do to get on the debate stage, but that he’ll take the pledge to back the GOP nominee “just as seriously as Donald Trump did eight years ago.”

Tim Scott

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.)

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) addresses the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority conference in Washington, D.C., on Friday, June 23, 2023. (The Hill/Tim Scott)

Asked whether Scott has met the RNC’s polling and donor requirements, as well as the candidate commitments, a spokesperson for Sen. Tim Scott’s (R-S.C.) campaign told The Hill the senator “looks forward to being on the debate stage.” 

Scott’s campaign said earlier this month he’d met the debate requirements with over 53,000 unique donors. 

This month’s Morning Consult polls put Scott between 2 and 3 percent. The Fox Business polls from Iowa and South Carolina put him at 11 and 10 percent, respectively.

The senator reportedly hauled in $2 million in the first 24 hours of his campaign. 

“We’ll see y’all in Milwaukee,” Scott’s campaign manager Jennifer DeCasper said in a memo. 

Doug Burgum

FILE - North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum delivers his budget address before a joint session of the North Dakota Legislature in Bismarck, N.D., Dec. 5, 2018. Burgum signed a bill Monday, April 24, 2023, that limits access to bathrooms, locker rooms and shower rooms for transgender and gender-nonconforming people in several state facilities. (Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune via AP, File)

FILE – North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum delivers his budget address before a joint session of the North Dakota Legislature in Bismarck, N.D., Dec. 5, 2018. (Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune via AP, File)

The North Dakota governor’s campaign has said he’s met the donor and polling threshold for the first debate. 

Burgum’s team cited a JMC Analytics poll where he came in at 1 percent, a University of New Hampshire poll that had him at 6 percent, the Fox Business poll taken in Iowa with him at 3 percent and a recent Morning Consult poll that had him at 1 percent.

The announcement that he’s met those marks comes less than two months after Burgum launched his longshot bid. 

The governor loaned his campaign $10 million during the second quarter of fundraising. Earlier this month, he rolled out an incentive program offering donors gift cards in exchange for donations to his campaign. Burgum told USA Today that he’ll support whoever wins the nomination, including Trump.

Haven’t met requirements

Mike Pence

Republican presidential candidate Mike Pence

Republican presidential candidate Mike Pence arrives on stage during the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority conference in Washington, D.C., on Friday, June 23, 2023. (The Hill/Greg Nash)

Former Vice President Mike Pence said over the weekend that his team is “literally working around the clock” to reach the 40,000 individual donor threshold. 

“Got about a month to go, I’m confident we will be there,” Pence told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of The Union” when asked about the benchmark. 

The former vice president had long been expected to jump into the GOP race, but joined the crowded field in early June, giving him a smaller window of time than some of his fellow candidates to rake in donations.

Pence on CNN took a swipe at some of his fellow candidates’ fundraising tactics, saying, “we’re not offering gift cards. We’re not even offering soccer tickets.”

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum offered $20 gift cards for campaign donations of $1 or more and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez raffled tickets to see soccer star Lionel Messi play in Miami.

Morning Consult’s latest two surveys have Pence at 6 and 7 percent, and the Fox Business polls from Iowa and South Carolina put him at 4 percent in each. 

He also told CNN during a town hall event last month that he’d back the party’s nominee.

“I’ve always supported the Republican nominee for president in the United States. And I’ll support the Republican nominee in 2024, especially if it’s me,” he said. 

At the same time, he’s been critical of his former running mate Trump, suggesting he “should never be president.”

Asa Hutchinson

Republican presidential candidate Asa Hutchinson

Republican presidential candidate Asa Hutchinson arrives on stage during the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority conference in Washington, D.C., on Friday, June 23, 2023. (The Hill/Greg Nash)

Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson last month promised to meet “whatever is set” as the criteria to get on the debate stage. 

But Hutchinson has criticized some of the RNC’s requirements, including the party loyalty pledge, saying the party should have only “minimal criteria” in the early stages of the presidential election cycle. 

“I have always supported the party nominee, but I have never supported a party loyalty oath. The pledge should simply be that you will not run as a third party candidate,” Hutchinson said in a statement last month.

“The 40,000 donor threshold will keep some candidates from being on the debate stage and benefits candidates who generate online donations through extreme rhetoric and scare tactics,” Hutchinson said. 

The former governor may not be able to meet the donor benchmark, having received funds from under 7,000 unique contributors as of July 1, the Associated Press reports. 

Fox Business polling from Iowa and South Carolina have Hutchinson hitting the 1 percent minimum in each state. A Morning Consult national poll earlier this month put him at 1 percent, though he’s dropped to 0 percent in the most recent release. Kaplan Strategies also has Hutchinson at 1 percent. 

Will Hurd

Republican presidential candidate Will Hurd

Republican presidential candidate Will Hurd addresses the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority conference in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, June 24, 2023. (The Hill/Greg Nash)

Former Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) is unlikely to take the debate stage with his fellow White House hopefuls next month. 

Hurd launched his longshot bid last month, and has been polling around 0 percent since joining the crowded GOP field. He had not been included in many polls of possible Republican candidates ahead of getting in the race.

Hurd has also said outright that he will not sign the RNC’s loyalty pledge, arguing that “parties should be trying to rig who should be on a debate stage” and that he “won’t be signing any kind of pledges.”

Francis Suarez

Mayor of Miami, Fla., Francis Suarez (R)

Mayor of Miami, Fla., Francis Suarez (R) addresses the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority conference in Washington, D.C., on Friday, June 23, 2023. (The Hill/Greg Nash)

The two-term Miami mayor kicked off his 2024 campaign just last month, becoming the third Floridian to jump in the GOP race, alongside Trump and DeSantis.

Suarez has said he’ll take the candidate pledge, but it appears unlikely that Suarez will make it to the first debate stage. 

FiveThirtyEight’s tracker of national polls has Suarez at an average of no more than 0.1 percent since he joined the contest. 

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