The dates are set for the 2016 presidential debate cycle—ARE YOU EXCITED??!!

Yeah, me neither. But the cycle looms like a dark cloud on the horizon, so we might as well get ready for it.

According to reports coming out of this week’s Winter Meeting, the RNC is drastically changing the way these debates are planned, structured, and covered. Instead of a barrage of debates, the events will be spread out over 7 months, and no one state will be allowed to host twice. The RNC is also taking steps to help campaigns more fully prepare, and has committed to bringing in a larger conservative media presence to cover the candidates.

From a press statement sent out by the RNC:

“The 2016 cycle is underway, and I can tell you it will be a landmark election for Republicans,” Chairman Priebus said. “By constructing and instituting a sound debate process, it will allow candidates to bring their ideas and vision to Americans in a timely and efficient way. This schedule ensures we will have a robust discussion among our candidates while also allowing the candidates to focus their time engaging with Republican voters.

It is exciting that Republicans will have such a large bench of candidates to choose from, and the sanctioned debate process ensures voters will have a chance to gain a chance to hear from them. The American people are tired of President Obama’s policies, and I am confident the debate process will enable candidates to communicate their ideas and ultimately help us elect a Republican president in 2016 to get our country back on track.”

Here’s the schedule as it stands. 9 dates have been officially sanctioned, with 3 more pending:

1. Fox News
August 2015

2. CNN
September 2015

October 2015

4. Fox Business
November 2015

5. CNN
December 2015

6. Fox News
January 2016

7. ABC News

February 2016
New Hampshire

8. CBS News
February 2016
South Carolina

9. NBC/Telemundo
February 2016


Fox News
March 2016

March 2016

Conservative Media Debate
Date TBD
Locations TBD

Whether the RNC actually honors its promise to make this whole process less painful remains to be seen, but I think they will. Last cycle, even as the candidates began to turn on one another, the electorate began to turn on the candidates—because we were sick of their talking points. The debate circuit became more of a running gag in the conservative media, rather than an opportunity for voters to get to know the person who could become president.

We’ll need to hold the RNC’s feet to the fire over who they choose to moderate these debates—we can’t afford another Candy Crowley-gate. It will be our responsibility to watch for media bias, and call it out when it happens.

But if the RNC keeps its word, and makes it easier for conservative outlets to take control over the narrative, it’ll be much easier to control the spin—and the fate of our chosen candidate.