During the first Republican presidential debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 23rd, none of the participating candidates were able to accomplish a “breakthrough” performance, but Governor Ron DeSantis’ performance appears to have helped him garner a small bump in all of the post-debate public opinion polls.
Since the debate and former President Donald Trump’s 4th criminal indictment, Governor DeSantis has seen his national polling rise 3-4 percentage points.
While DeSantis is steadily rising in the national polls, which was to be expected, President Trump’s recent indictment on state RICO charges in Georgia has only helped him surge in the polls with an average lead over DeSantis of 40 percentage points.
Trump skipped the first debate and is expected to forgo the second Republican presidential debate on September 27 in Simi Valley, California.
The second debate will give the candidates another opportunity to separate themselves from the pack. This debate could be particularly crucial for DeSantis who has tried to frame the 2024 Republican presidential sweepstakes as a contest between only him and President Trump.
After the debate, pollster Ryan Tyson and campaign manager James Uthmeier, both spoke to The Floridian about how they felt their boss did.
It was no surprise that both men believed that DeSantis won the night.
“There was a scrum for third place. This has been a two-man race since the beginning,” said Tyson, who added that he believed that while the rest of the candidates had “a lot of good ideas,” none of them “have been able to deliver” results to this point.
Uthmeier, who recently came aboard when the campaign rebooted in early August, acknowledged the cutbacks and “adjustments” they had made in early primary states, adding that he believed he had the team in place that was “ready for the long haul.”
“We’ve got the team that is ready for the long haul. The team that’s in it to win it,” added Uthmeier.
Like Tyson, Uthmeier reiterated that the primary race was between DeSantis and President Trump as the rest of the field of candidates was merely “scrapping for third place.”
“This is a horse race. It's going to come down to a head-to-head,” Uthmeier continued. “He won the night. He rose above all the candidates.”
Trump and DeSantis are without question the two favorites in the race but don’t discount former Vice President Mike Pence, former Ambassador Nikki Haley, and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, who all had pretty good debate performances, and who trail DeSantis for second place by less than 10 points.
This week, DeSantis temporarily suspended his campaign to attend to his duties as governor in the days leading up to Hurricane Idalia’s direct strike on Florida. DeSantis has been leading the emergency relief and recovery efforts after the storm passed through the state.