Chris Christie reaches donor threshold for fourth GOP debate as he pushes to qualify

HANOVER, N.H. — Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has amassed support from the 80,000 donors needed to qualify for the fourth Republican presidential debate in December, as he pushes to remain on the stage even while one of his rivals from last week’s debate, Sen. Tim Scott, just suspended his campaign.

Christie’s campaign says it has seen a “surge of organic support.” 

“Coming off the heels of Christie’s strong performance at the third debate last week, we’ve seen the best week since he announced, bringing in thousands of new donors in just the few days since,” the campaign told NBC News. 

It also pointed to a flash poll conducted after the Republican debate in Miami by 538/Washington Post/Ipsos that showed a large jump in Christie’s favorability ratings post-debate. It will take additional time for other polls to confirm that finding, either nationally or in early-voting states.

In the meantime, Christie’s campaign says his message is resonating with voters. 

“Christie is the only candidate with the courage to consistently tell the hard truths about Donald Trump and make the case for the serious leadership needed for these serious times,” it says.  

Christie still has to clear the Republican National Committee’s polling thresholds to qualify for the fourth debate, according to an NBC News analysis of the requirements. The RNC requires candidates to reach at least 6% in two national polls — or 6% in one national poll and two polls from different early primary states. 

The Christie campaign did point to two national polls to argue that the former governor has met the polling threshold for the fourth debate, but both could run afoul of the RNC’s rules.

One national survey from the Liberal Patriot/YouGov that found Christie at 10% was conducted from Sept. 14-18, and the RNC’s guidelines say qualifying polls must be conducted on or after Sept. 15.

The second national survey from WPA Intelligence and FairVote, could violate the RNC’s rule that polls must not be conducted by firms “affiliated with a candidate or candidate committee,” since WPA Intelligence conducts polling for Never Back Down, the super PAC supporting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Christie so far does appear to have hit the polling threshold in at least two New Hampshire surveys, but he has yet to hit at least 6% in a national survey or a poll from another early state that meets the RNC’s methodological criteria, according to NBC News’ analysis.

But the push to qualify suggests that Christie is aiming to stay in the 2024 campaign through at least the early states, even as Scott and another rival, former Vice President Mike Pence, have dropped out in recent weeks.

Four other candidates do appear to have met the RNC’s donor and polling requirements: former President Donald Trump, DeSantis, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy. But Trump is not expected to attend the debate, which is set for Dec. 6 in Alabama, after skipping all three Republican debates so far this year.

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