I’m getting this strange feeling about the 2016 GOP primary.  Not that strange feeling because Trump is leading in the GOP polls, but something more media-based and systemic.

Can the most crowded field in GOP history create a severely skewed debate result?  Not due to the debate itself, but the pre-media shortlisting.

First, a little background.

We’ve now looking at 15+ GOP candidates heading into the first debate (there may be even more by the time I hit post button).   Combine these numbers with the fact that there’s no shortage of media attention plied on candidates willing to stretch the boundaries of sensational grandstanding (or is that just politics?).  And finally, we get a cast of debaters drawn from what’s become a media popularity poll (since it’s next to impossible to draw a true random sample these days).

The result may be a debate pool skewed to media prominence, and not prospective voter preference.

Possibly not the best way to shortlist future leaders of the free-world, but an approach quite suited to mediaQuant metrics.  With metrics at the intersection of traditional media prominence and social media discussions, our top line rating is pretty much what the debate selection comes down to.

To round things out, we’re adding the last few GOP candidates with the July media sweep so we should have a perfect rating rundown come the GOP debates in early August (Donald Trump’s historical rating metrics across all media segments are running this week).

Admittedly, the debates are only one rung in the campaign ladder to the GOP nomination.  There’s plenty of runway for those candidates left off the debate team.  But the national attention afforded to the 10 lucky GOP candidates should not be underestimated.  And low-visibility candidates like Kasich and Graham may be particularly vulnerable to a debate exclusion.

We’ll have more candidate rating numbers with the July rating sweep.  But until then, it’s going to be an interesting pre-debate media show on who makes the varsity debate team, and who sits out the early debate events.