Election Day 2016 is still more than a year away, but primary debate season is almost upon us. The Republican National Committee, in an effort to prevent a repeat of the 25-plus debates during the 2012 election cycle, has sanctioned only nine debates this cycle.
While a debate performance alone will not usually make or break a candidacy, there's no denying a presidential primary debate can be a high-stakes encounter. It can allow a candidate riding high in the polls to solidify his or her lead with a strong performance, but it can also trip up an otherwise-formidable candidate who turns in an awkward performance.
A debate can also provide some lesser-known candidates with an opportunity to shine -- a chance to emerge from the pack and make a real run at the nomination.
The GOP debates this cycle will take place between August 2015 and March 1, 2016. Here's a look at what we know about each of the debates thus far.
First GOP debate
Fox News is hosting the first Republican presidential debate on August 6. The debate will take place at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, OH from 9-11 p.m. EST.
The debate will be moderated by Fox News anchors Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace. It will incorporate Facebook data illustrating how political "issues of the day" are sitting with Americans, according to a statement from Fox. The cable network's viewers can share photos and videos, which will be used to spark questions during the debate.
Because the GOP primary field is so crowded -- 16 candidates are expected to be in the race by the time the debate comes around -- Fox made an effort to whittle the field with its debate criteria. Only the top ten candidates could make the cut, and they will be selected by their average in the "five most recent national polls, as recognized by FOX News leading up to August 4th at 5 PM/ET," according to a release from Fox. If any candidates are tied in the polling average, there could be more than 10 contenders onstage.
Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus stood behind the decision to limit the number of debaters in a statement. "We support and respect the decision Fox News has made which will match the greatest number of candidates we have ever had on a debate stage," he said.
Second GOP debate
On September 16, 2015, CNN will host the second GOP debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. Jake Tapper, host of CNN's "State of the Union," will moderate the debate.
The debate will be split into two parts. One half will feature only the top 10 candidates "according to public polling," according to a release from CNN and the library. The other half will allow any candidate who exceeds one percent in polls to participate.
Third GOP debate
The third GOP debate will be hosted by CNBC in October. It will take place in Colorado.
"We are honored to once again be selected to host this vital conversation. The U.S. economy, jobs and our nation's position in the world has always been and will continue to be, for a majority of voters, at the center of their decision-making process when they cast their vote," said CNBC President Mark Hoffman in a statement. "Our daily mission across all platforms is to elicit direct answers to substantive questions and we are committed to work hard in this debate to do exactly that."
Additional information on timing and location is forthcoming, the network has said.
Fourth GOP debate
Fox Business Network will host the fourth debate in November. The match will take place in Wisconsin. Additional details have not yet been released.
Fifth GOP debate
In December, CNN will host the fifth GOP primary debate in Nevada.
Sixth GOP debate
Fox News will host its second GOP debate of the 2016 cycle in January 2016 in Iowa.
Seventh GOP debate
Three GOP debates will take place in February 2016. ABC News will host the first in New Hampshire.
Eighth GOP debate
CBS News will host the second GOP primary debate scheduled for February. That face-off will take place in South Carolina.
Ninth GOP debate
The last GOP primary debate on the schedule will be hosted in February 2016 by NBC/Telemundo in Florida.