Florida Governor Ron DeSantis emerged as the frontrunner in the initial GOP presidential debate held on Wednesday night, narrowly surpassing entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy with 29% compared to Ramaswamy’s 26%. This outcome was based on a survey conducted by The Washington Post, FiveThirtyEight, and Ipsos.
Following the top two, former South Carolina Governor and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley secured the third spot with 15% support. The survey further placed former Vice President Mike Pence at 7%, and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina at 4% each. The remaining contenders, former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, garnered 1% each in the poll’s results.
The survey encompassed the responses of 775 potential Republican primary voters who tuned in to the debate.
Remarkably, the debate unfolded without former President Donald Trump, who maintained his leadership position with the support of 64% of the GOP primary voters surveyed for the poll. DeSantis secured the second spot in this category with 51% approval.
Among those who watched the debate, DeSantis held a 67% to 61% lead over Trump.
As of Thursday, national polls placed DeSantis in second place with 14.8%, as aggregated by FiveThirtyEight. Trump remained in the lead with 51.6%.
DeSantis observed a five-point surge in support from those who watched the debate and would consider voting for him in the primary. Similarly, Ramaswamy experienced a six-point increase in his favor. Haley’s performance resonated with debate watchers, resulting in a substantial 17-point upswing in consideration for their votes.
In both the categories of debate watchers and potential GOP primary voters, Haley and Ramaswamy were closely competing for the third spot in terms of consideration for primary votes.
Haley also witnessed a notable boost of 14 points in her favorability ratings among debate watchers, while her unfavorable ratings experienced minimal movement.
Ramaswamy encountered a mixed outcome, as his favorability ratings rose by 10 points, yet his unfavorable ratings surged by 19 points.
In contrast, DeSantis experienced minimal fluctuations in both his favorable and unfavorable ratings from the period preceding the debate to the aftermath.