North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum appears to have qualified for Wednesday's second GOP primary debate, an NBC News analysis shows.
Burgum has been on the outside looking into the second debate with less than a week to go to secure enough support in primary polls to qualify. But a flurry of new polling in recent days looks set to secure him a spot on the stage, just days before Monday's deadline to qualify — pending Republican National Committee approval of the polls.
The RNC remains the final arbiter on who qualifies for their debates, so nothing is confirmed until the party releases its list of qualified participants ahead of Wednesday’s event. But the new polls appear to fit the bill for Burgum, according to NBC News analysis of the RNC's criteria.
The party is requiring candidates to hit 50,000 unique donors (something Burgum previously said he had hit), sign pledges to support the party (which he already signed to make the first debate) and meet the party's polling thresholds.
Candidates can hit that polling mark either by reaching 3% in two national polls, or 3% in one national poll as well as in two additional polls from early nominating states (Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada). Burgum appears to have qualified through the latter:
- 3.2% in a national poll by Trafalgar Group, released overnight Saturday.
- 3.2% in an Iowa poll by Trafalgar, released in mid-August.
- 4% in a New Hampshire poll from Insider Advantage released Thursday.
The other candidates who appear to have qualified — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, former Vice President Mike Pence and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — have all hit the required mark in at least a dozen national polls, increasing certainty they'll be on the stage next week. Former President Donald Trump has hit the polling and donor thresholds, but he has not agreed to sign the party pledge and says he'll skip the debate.
Burgum, on the other hand, appears to have secured just enough support to qualify.
Ahead of the last debate, while it had seemed that Michigan businessman Perry Johnson had amassed enough polling support, the party took issue with the methodology of some of the surveys Johnson had been banking on, and he did not qualify.
Burgum jumped into the GOP presidential race relatively late, without some of the national recognition of some of his rivals. But he qualified for the party's first presidential debate in part after encouraging unique donations by doling out $20 gift cards to thousands of donors who gave at least $1, and through a largely self-funded, multi-million dollar ad campaign meant to introduce him to GOP voters.
Burgum's participation in the first debate was in question until hours before he took the stage in Milwaukee, due to a basketball injury he suffered the night before.
That injury turned out to be a ruptured Achilles tendon, which has left him using a scooter on the campaign trail.
Earlier this week, as his participation in the second debate remained unclear, Burgum aired his frustrations on the trail about how the polling threshold has affected his campaign strategy.
“It shouldn’t be political polls. It shouldn’t be the pundits. It shouldn’t be party leaders to decide who gets to be on the ballot. It should be the voters to decide who to support,” Burgum said in New Hampshire.
“We’ve been spending some dollars on trying to raise national name recognition, but I would rather have spent that money in Iowa and New Hampshire and spent that money actually getting out here and talking to real voters."