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When is the first GOP primary debate of the 2016 cycle?

  • In this file photo, workers prepare the stage for the Fox News/Wall Street Journal/South Carolina GOP debate at the Sheraton Myrtle Beach Convention Center on January 16, 2012 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Joe Raedle, Getty Images

    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.