Analysis of the First Republican Debate: Ramaswamy’s Popularity Lags Behind, Trump Maintains Strong Lead

The first Republican debate has come and gone, and while Vivek Ramaswamy was viewed as the winner by many Republicans and Republican-leaners, his popularity did not translate into a significant increase in support. Only 5% of potential primary voters say they would vote for Ramaswamy if the primary were held today, a slight increase from 4% prior to the debate.[0] In contrast, more Republicans who would vote for Trump in the primary chose Ron DeSantis (38%) as their second choice, compared to Ramaswamy (16%).

Interestingly, Ramaswamy was seen as the winner by a significant share (37%) of Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents who have Trump as their top choice candidate. Among those who do not pick Trump as their top candidate, Ramaswamy (24%) and DeSantis (22%) are nearly tied as debate winners. However, a large portion of Republicans who paid attention to the debate are either unsure of who won (22%) or believe none of the candidates did (14%).[0]

Ramaswamy, often referred to as the “mini-Trump,” currently holds third place in the race.[1] He experienced a surge in popularity in mid-August but may have already peaked. He had been hovering just below 10% in the FiveThirtyEight average but only reached about 7% on Real Clear Politics.[1] Despite receiving praise for his debate performance, Ramaswamy has struggled to make a compelling case as to why Republican voters should choose him over Trump, who is still a strong contender.[1]

Among potential Republican primary voters, roughly 1 in 5 have unfavorable views of Ramaswamy, an increase from 12% before the debate.[2] This trend is not unique to Ramaswamy, as both Asa Hutchinson and Doug Burgum, two candidates with low name recognition, also saw their unfavorability increase post-debate.[2] Ramaswamy’s debate appearance seems to have brought increased awareness of him, leading to a rise in negative views.

When it comes to opinions on the 2020 election, Trump Republicans are significantly more likely than non-Trump Republicans to believe that Joe Biden was not the legitimate winner (87% vs. 45%). They are also more likely to criticize Mike Pence for certifying Biden’s victory (51% vs. 13%). These views may influence Republicans’ disappointment with Pence as a potential nominee. Among Republicans who believe Pence made the wrong decision in certifying the election, 70% would be disappointed with him as the nominee.

In terms of the 2024 presidential election, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed Trump with an edge over Biden in a potential rematch, with 38% support compared to Biden’s 32%. Interestingly, 30% of respondents remained neutral on the two high-profile candidates.[3] Among Republican respondents, Trump maintained a significant lead, with 52% support compared to DeSantis’ 13%.[3]

The absence of Donald Trump from the first Republican debate was notable, as he chose to sit for an interview with Tucker Carlson instead.[4] Many Republicans were unaware of Trump’s interview with Carlson at the time of the survey, with 45% saying they hadn’t heard anything about it, compared to 28% who were unaware of the debate.[0]

While each debate contender had their moments, such as Mike Pence’s strong stance on abortion and Nikki Haley’s practical policy stance on abortion, none of them made a compelling case for why they were the best candidate to defeat Trump.[5] The first debate did not have a significant impact on the race, with the polling numbers remaining relatively unchanged.

In conclusion, despite being viewed as the winner of the first debate, Vivek Ramaswamy’s popularity did not see a significant boost. He remains in third place among potential Republican primary voters, but his unfavorability has increased post-debate. Trump Republicans continue to hold strong views on the 2020 election and are more critical of Mike Pence’s decision to certify Biden’s victory. As the race for the 2024 presidential election progresses, Trump maintains a significant lead over Biden and other Republican candidates.

0. “The 2024 Republican primary: Views on the first debate and Donald Trump” YouGov US, 30 Aug. 2023,

1. “The State of the Republican Primary” Ordinary Times, 2 Sep. 2023,

2. “Trump’s Electability Climbs Post-GOP Debate, Georgia Arrest” Morning Consult, 29 Aug. 2023,

3. “Pro-Bitcoin DeSantis Rises As Champion After GOP Debate; Trump Still Leads” CoinGape, 26 Aug. 2023,

4. “Gov. DeSantis, Republican candidates debate in Milwaukee” FSView & Florida Flambeau, 27 Aug. 2023,

5. “AS I SEE IT: 1st GOP debate – Trump not on stage but his presence is everywhere – PNEWS TODAY -Filipino News …” PNEWS TODAY -Filipino …, 1 Sep. 2023,

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