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A poll released by the Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics on Wednesday indicates that Rand Paul might have been unfairly booted from the main stage in Thursday’s Republican presidential debate on Fox Business.

Politico’s Steven Shepard writes, “Fox Business had said last month that the top six candidates in the five most recent national polls as of Monday evening would make the main stage, joined by any other candidates who appeared in the top five in either Iowa or New Hampshire.”

“A new Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll in Iowa released Wednesday morning has Paul at 5 percent — alone in fifth place,” Shepard noted. “In fact, if the Des Moines Register poll is included on the list of the five most recent polls, it gets Paul into a tie for fifth place with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 4.2 percent.”

“That, presumably, would get Paul onto the main stage…” he added.

Politico asked whether Paul was a “victim of bad timing” in light of this new information.

cliff maloney

MSNBC/Screenshot

The new Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll, which was conducted during the same time frame as the other polls Fox Business used to make their decision, also places Paul, ahead of Bush, Christie, Kasich, and Fiorina in Iowa. As Shepard notes, including this data means Paul is tied with Bush for 5th overall, per the polling averages Fox Business considered.

Shepard writes, “It’s true that the Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll was released 36 hours after Fox Business’ deadline for inclusion. But it was conducted Jan. 7-10 — entirely before the qualification deadline…”

“Quite simply: Had the Register and Bloomberg released their poll, which was completed Sunday, on Monday at 5:59 p.m. instead of Wednesday at 6 a.m., Paul would likely have qualified for the main stage,” Shepherd says.

This information makes a strong case for including Paul in the debate, which is set to take place on Thursday in North Charleston, South Carolina.

Adding Paul to the stage would not result in booting anybody who is already planning to participate. It would simply place him where he belongs in light of new and relevant data.

Paul told MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Wednesday that he is working to pressure Fox Business to allow him on the stage in light of the new polling that, as he noted, places him above three of the people who have been invited to debate.

Instead of blaming the media for his exclusion, Paul took on the GOP establishment. “They have been saying for months they’re going to narrow the field, but I don’t think it’s the job of the establishment in the Republican Party to decide who is and who isn’t [in the debate],” Paul told Morning Joe.

Paul accused establishment forces within the Republican Party of intentionally excluding “liberty voters,” saying, “I am the one voice saying we shouldn’t make the sand glow. I am the one voice saying … the government shouldn’t be collecting all your records, and I’m the one voice saying we shouldn’t lock up every kid for marijuana.”

It is not yet clear whether Paul’s efforts to join the main debate Thursday will bear fruit, but he appears to have a strong case.

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