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Who Would You Invite To The First Republican Debate?

For weeks, my colleague Harry Enten has been stalking the halls of our office, muttering to himself about Fox News’ slippery criteria for inclusion in its Aug. 6 Republican primary debate, the first of the 2016 campaign. For someone as obsessed with clean numbers and hard data as Harry, this kind of vagueness is rattling. (Also, Harry could use a hobby.)

What we heard almost two months ago basically still stands: Fox News (and CNN, who is hosting the second debate, on Sept. 16) will invite the candidates who are in the top 10 based on a national polling average. Both networks are also hosting a “JV” debate earlier that same day for the remaining candidates (it’s up to seven more now!).

The problem, of course, is that “average” can mean many things. And Fox has refused to say which polls it will include in its average, as well as how they will round the numbers to draw a clear line between 10th and 11th place. For candidates like Rick Perry, Rick Santorum and John Kasich, this could decide whether, three years from now, someone can say, “Oh, yeah, he was there too. Huh.”

But let’s leave the hand-wringing and poll-wrangling to Harry for now and, in the spirit of our NBA draft crowdsourcing project, ask if you, clever reader, have a better idea for how to decide which candidates get to take the stage. Submit your proposals — serious or silly — using the form below. Tell us how many candidates you’d include, what your criteria would be and what the lineup would look like. We’ll highlight some of our favorite proposals next week as part of our coverage leading up to debate night. Feel free to tweet me your ideas as well. Might as well tag Harry too.

Jody Avirgan hosts and produces podcasts for FiveThirtyEight.

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