According to an exclusive poll by , biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy won the first Republican debate of 2024 on Wednesday night, narrowly beating Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
He put on a fighting display, trading blows with opponents including former Vice President Mike Pence, who seemed intent on putting him down.
It made him the focus of much debate.
That was enough for 28 percent of those polled to say the 38-year-old rising star had the best night, overtaking DeSantis, who got 27 percent.
Former Vice President Mike Pence came third with 13 percent, followed by Senator Tim Scott with eight percent and former South Carolina Nikki Haley with seven percent.
JL Partners conducted an online poll to reach 504 registered Republicans listening to Wednesday’s debate. The results show an error rate of 4.4 percent
A poll found Vivek Ramaswamy (right) narrowly edged out Ron DeSantis as the frontrunner in Wednesday night’s first Republican poll
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie scored four percent, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum three percent (and kicked onstage despite tearing his Achilles tendon) and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson two percent.
JL Partners’ James Johnson, who conducted the survey, said three candidates could be satisfied with their night work.
“Primarily Vivek Ramaswamy, who has established himself on the national stage and narrowly won the debate with Republican voters,” he said.
“Second, Ron DeSantis, who nearly came out on top in the poll, kept his campaign very much alive and defied criticism of his performance in the debate.”
“Third, Mike Pence, who voters put in third place and who may now hold his own as the leading anti-Trump candidate in the running.”
JL Partners conducted an online poll to reach 504 registered Republicans listening to the debate. The results show an error rate of 4.4 percent.
When she included the absent Donald Trump in the questions, Ramaswamy still won. About 22 percent of those polled said he was the “true winner,” compared to 20 percent who voted for Trump.
“I’m just being warmed up,” said Tricia McLaughlin, spokeswoman for Ramaswamy.
The result reflects how Ramaswamy’s underdog message has made him the surprise package of the race so far. His numbers have risen so much in national polls that he’s ranked second to DeSantis in some polls.
Ramaswamy was still ahead when Donald Trump came along. He managed to dominate the headlines while staying away from the debate
Eight candidates took the stage in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, battling for the 2024 Republican nomination. Former President Donald Trump stayed away
Instead, earlier this week, Trump sat at his golf course in Bedminster for an interview with Tucker Carlson. The broadcast took place on Wednesday evening
Wednesday was also seen as a pivotal moment for DeSantis, an opportunity to restart its campaign after weeks of falling polls and negative headlines.
The results suggest he hasn’t made any mistakes, but has yet to cement his position as the candidate most likely to overtake front-runner Donald Trump.
His campaign manager, Jame Uthmeier, said DeSantis managed to stay out of the fray of squabbling rivals.
“While other candidates attacked each other, Governor DeSantis remained focused on the American people and fought for their future with a clear vision to fix our economy, secure the border, empower parents, support law enforcement, and serve left-wing elites and… to stand up to the leftist elites “The DC establishment,” he said.
He may have recovered from the fray, but sometimes that meant he was relegated to being a spectator while Ramaswamy was in the thick of the action.
“The real decision we face in this primary is this: Do you want a Super PAC doll?” asked Ramaswamy as he faced his opponents. “Or do you want a patriot who tells the truth? Do you want incremental reforms you hear about, or do you want a revolution?
At times, DeSantis was a bystander as the two contestants on either side traded blows
Ramaswamy also managed to use the primetime stage to introduce himself to an audience that might never have heard of him before
Ron DeSantis gets his makeup done during a commercial break
But those punches also made him a target.
“Now is not the time for on-the-job training,” said Pence, trying to position himself as the most experienced candidate in the field.
“We don’t have to hire a freshman.” “We don’t have to hire people without experience.”
Christie, who focuses his campaign on attacks on Trump, also spoke out. He updated his famous 2016 attack on Marco Rubio, criticizing Ramaswamy as “a guy who sounds like ChatGPT”.
And Haley, who was ambassador to the UN under Trump, came into conflict with him for not supporting Ukraine in the war with Russia.
“They have no experience in foreign policy and it shows,” she told him.
However, according to his allies, the blows only made Ramaswamy stronger.
“They have no foreign policy experience and it shows,” said Nikki Haley, former US Ambassador to the United Nations under Donald Trump
“Seven career politicians attacked Vivek and couldn’t put him down,” said his senior adviser Chris Grant.
Additionally, he managed to use the debate to introduce himself to an audience that might never have heard of him before.
“First, let me address the question on everyone’s mind at home tonight. “Who the hell is this skinny guy with the weird last name and what the hell is he doing in the middle of the debate period?” he said in his first reply.
“I’m not a politician. You’re right. I am an entrepreneur. My parents came to this country 40 years ago with no money. I have founded multi-billion dollar companies.”
Jason Miller, Trump’s senior adviser, said the performance was enough to defeat the DeSantis campaign.
“We saw Vivek Ramaswamy pass Ron DeSanctus in real time tonight,” he said in the spin room after the debate.
“I think we’ll wake up tomorrow and Ramaswamy is comfortably in second place.”