The first Republican presidential primary debate proved to be a boon for one candidate, even if it was only a slight boost to his ratings.
Following the debate, which was held in Milwaukee, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis experienced a slight increase in support, an updated national poll shows.
The poll, conducted by Emerson College Polling, revealed that DeSantis’ support increased by 2 points up to 12%. He still ranks in a distant second place among all GOP presidential hopefuls, way behind former President Donald Trump, who didn’t attend the debate.
According to that same poll, Trump is polling at 50% support among GOP voters. While that’s significantly higher than any other Republican candidate, there might be a slight reason for concern.
The 50% mark is six percentage points less than it was just one week before the GOP debate took place. In addition, it’s the lowest level of support that Trump has enjoyed from that poll since Emerson College started its polling for the 2024 election cycle in June of 2022.
The question becomes whether Trump not showing up for the debates – combined with his rising legal issues – could continue to have a negative effect on his polling numbers, to the point where he might be seriously concerned.
Emerson College Polling’s executive director, Spencer Kimball, commented recently:
“While Trump saw a slight dip in support, the question from this poll is whether this is a blip for Trump or if the other Republican candidates will be able to rally enough support to be competitive for the caucus and primary season.”
In third place in the poll is businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, at 9%. That’s a drop of one percentage point from the previous poll.
Mike Pence, who served as Trump’s vice president, ranks in fourth place at 7%, which is actually a four-point increase from the last poll.
As Kimball explained:
“When Trump is removed from the GOP ballot test, his voters split between DeSantis at 32% and Ramaswamy at 29%, with Pence at 16% – which suggests if Trump was to not run, a race between DeSantis and Ramaswamy could take shape.”
It’s highly unlikely that Trump would ever drop out of the race on his own. So, maybe what Kimball was referring to was if Trump were ever barred from running for president as a result of one – or more – of the four criminal indictments that he’s currently facing.
The GOP candidate who enjoyed the biggest increase in support from the debate was former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. She gained five points from the prior poll, and now has 7% support among voters.
“Different candidates have been able to pull varying demographic support from the Trump base, for example Mike Pence who saw an overall four-point bump in voter support was able to increase his support in the Midwest from 4% to 13% of the vote, while Trump saw his Midwest support drop from 54% to 42% after the debate.
“Nikki Haley’s support increased from about 2% to 9% among voters over 50, while Trump’s support dropped within this age group from about 56% to 49% after the debate.”