In the past 48 hours, as of my writing this, there have been five national polls released ranking the Republican candidates for president. That's the pool that Fox News has established as its baseline for determining the ten candidates that will make its debate stage Thursday night, meaning that those 10 candidates will essentially be the ones that were most popular at the end of last week. Four of the five completed their surveys on Sunday.
Will there be more polls before today's 5 p.m. cut-off? Sure, why not. Ten more, 20 more. It's a great way to get a bit of free press, right? We should all have seen this deluge approaching. Dark Sky for polling.
If there aren't any more, the stage will likely look like this. (The influx of new polls from established outlets means that we don't have to wonder if Fox will include polls of iffier methodologies.)
For kicks, here's what the stage looked like about a month ago, when we updated the graphic less frequently, because people weren't dropping polls in our laps every 10 hours.
The people in the top 10 haven't changed much, but they've certainly moved around a lot.
Over the past month, we've seen an interesting change. A month ago, the Real Clear Politics polling average had Jeb Bush with a healthy lead, and everyone else fairly neatly scattered beneath him. Now, there are four distinct tiers in the polling, as shown below.
Why is that? Is it because Republican voters are starting to think about the candidates more deliberately? Is it an artifact of rounding in poll numbers? Is it poll herding? It will be interesting to see if this loosens up as the rate of polling eases and upcoming debates use different standards for inclusion.
Or maybe this is what the 2016 election will be: More and more polls, multiple polls a day from now until next November. If that's the case, I'm probably going to stop updating this graphic.