Biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy won the first republican 2024 debate Wednesday evening, according to an exclusive DailyMail.com poll, beating Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis by the narrowest of margins.
He put on a combative performance, exchanging blows with opponents such as the former vice president mike pence who seemed determined to cut him down to size.
It made him the focus of much of the debate.
That was enough for 28 percent of respondents to say the 38-year-old rising star had the best night, edging out DeSantis, who scored 27 percent.
Former Vice President Mike Pence came in third at 13 percent, followed by Sen. Tim Scott at eight percent and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley at seven percent.
JL Partners conducted an online survey of 504 registered Republicans who watched Wednesday’s debate. The results have a margin of error of 4.4 percent
A DailyMail.com poll found that Vivek Ramaswamy (R) narrowly edged out Ron DeSantis as the top performer in the first Republican poll on Wednesday evening.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie scored four percent, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum took three percent (and appeared on stage despite a torn hamstring Achilles) and former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson took two percent.
James Johnson, of JL Partners who conducted the survey, said three candidates could be satisfied with their night’s work.
“First, Vivek Ramaswamy, who has entered the national stage and narrowly won the debate with Republican voters,” he said.
“Second, Ron DeSantis, who almost topped the poll and has kept his campaign very much alive and defied write-offs about his debate performance.
“Third, Mike Pence, who was ranked third by voters and can now assert himself as the leading anti-Trump candidate in the race.”
JL Partners conducted an online survey of 504 registered Republicans who watched the debate. The results have a margin of error of 4.4 percent.
When they included the absent Donald Trump in the questions, Ramaswamy still won. About 22 percent of those polled said he was the “real winner,” compared to 20 percent that Trump won.
“I just warmed up,” said Tricia McLaughlin, Ramaswamy’s spokeswoman.
The result reflects how Ramaswamy’s external message has made him the surprise package of the race so far. His numbers have soared in the national polls to the point that some polls have him in second place ahead of DeSantis.
Ramaswamy still came out on top when Donald Trump was added to the mix. He managed to dominate the headlines even while staying away from the debate
Eight candidates took the stage in Milwaukee, Wis., as they battle for the 2024 Republican nomination. Former President Donald Trump stayed away
Instead, Trump sat down for an interview with Tucker Carlson at his golf course in Bedminster earlier this week. It aired on Wednesday evening
Wednesday was also heralded as a breakout moment for DeSantis, a chance to reboot his campaign after weeks of declining poll numbers and negative headlines.
The results suggest he made no mistakes, but he has yet to solidify his position as the candidate most likely to beat front-runner Donald Trump.
His campaign manager, James Uthmeier, said DeSantis had managed to stay above the fray of contending rivals.
“While other candidates were attacking each other, Governor DeSantis stayed focused on the American people and fighting for their future with a clear vision to fix our economy, secure the border, empower parents, address the ‘law enforcement and stand up to leftist elites and the D.C. Establishment,’ he said.
He may have risen above the fray, but at times that meant he was relegated to a bystander while Ramaswamy was in the middle of things.
“The real choice we face in this primary is this: Do you want a puppet Super PAC?” asked Ramaswamy, as he faced his opponents. Or do you want a patriot who tells the truth? Do you want incremental reform, which is what you’re hearing, or do you want a revolution?’
At times, DeSantis ended up being a bystander as the two candidates on either side of him traded blows.
Ramaswamy also managed to use the prime-time stage to introduce himself to an audience that might not have heard of him before.
Ron DeSantis touches up his makeup during a commercial break
But those times also made him a target.
“Now is not the time for on-the-job training,” said Pence, who sought to position himself as the most experienced candidate in the field.
‘We don’t need to bring a beginner. You don’t need to bring inexperienced people.’
Christie, who has focused his campaign on attacking Trump, also chimed in. He updated his famous 2016 attack on Marco Rubio, calling Ramaswamy “a guy who sounds like ChatGPT.”
And Haley, who was ambassador to the United Nations under Trump, clashed with him for not supporting Ukraine in its war with Russia.
“You have no foreign policy experience and it shows,” he told her.
But the blows only made Ramaswamy stronger, according to his allies.
“You have no experience in foreign policy and it shows,” said Nikki Haley, former US ambassador to the UN under Donald Trump.
“Seven career politicians hit Vivek and couldn’t bring him down,” said his senior adviser Chris Grant.
Not only that, but he managed to use the debate to introduce himself to an audience that might not have heard of him before.
“First, let me address the question on everyone’s mind in the house tonight. Who the hell is this skinny guy with a funny last name and what the hell is he doing in the middle of the debate stage?” he said during the your first answer.
‘I’m not a politician. You are right about that. I am an entrepreneur. My parents came to this country with no money 40 years ago. I’ve gone on to found multi-million dollar companies.
Jason Miller, Trump’s senior adviser, said the performance was enough to end the DeSantis campaign.
“Tonight we saw Vivek Ramaswamy jump Ron DeSanctus in real time,” he said in the spin room after the debate.
“I think we’ll wake up tomorrow and Ramaswamy is comfortably in second place.”