The dust has settled, and the various campaigns have reorganized appropriately, but as the final spin is refined, who really came out on top of the GOP presidential debate? And more importantly, who ended up losing?
Since the Aug. 23 GOP debate, only two major presidential polls have been released: one by the New York Post, the other by Emerson College Polling. Both of these surveys showed that Donald Trump was leading over Joe Biden by a small percentage (3% and 2% respectively). It seems the event, while not harming the current president’s numbers, has firmed up the former president’s. So, how did the GOP debate – at which Trump was notably absent – manage to improve his standing in the polls?
No Rivals for Trump?
Two notable factors about Republican voters are present in the Emerson polling. First, “A plurality (31%) of voters who have heard, seen, or read about the Republican Presidential debate think none of the candidates won.” The New York Post poll similarly focused on post-debate performance and again appears to have reinforced Trump’s position by identifying no standout alternatives within the Republican Party.
While the debate brought forward two potential winners, neither managed to gain a decisive advantage in the surveys: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy. The latter headed up the Post study, taking 23%, with notable support in the Northeast region. DeSantis, on the other hand, came in second with 21%, but with broad support across all regions – something that could prove decisive in a general election. Fox News ran its own polling directly after the debate in which DeSantis scored 9% over Ramaswamy’s 6%. Since no single breakout candidate stood out from the crowd, Republican voters may feel that Trump is the most viable choice.
Second, “A plurality of Republican Primary voters (22%) think [Chris] Christie lost the debate.” Christie and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson portrayed themselves on stage as the opponents of Trumpism. According to the New York Post poll, viewers believed these two finished almost joint last (combined results of 8%), beating only North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, who polled a mere 1%. While the left-leaning media – in a desperate bid to end the political prospects of the reviled 45 – are happy to give airtime to Christie, it seems GOP voters have other ideas. The Emerson poll indicated something similar. Between Christie and Hutchinson, just 10.4% of voters lent their assent.
The former New Jersey governor is (or was) the leading anti-Trump voice in the field; if prospective voters feel he is a spent force, they may decide to swing toward the pack leader on the basis that a vote for Trump is, at least, more in line with their views than a vote for Biden.
While some speculated that Trump may have damaged his image by refusing to join his rivals, the opposite appears to be true, with 45% of those polled agreeing that it was the right move for Trump to skip the debate; 27% disagreed and 27% were unsure.
The Rebel Factor
Another event – beyond the debate – worthy of consideration in the polling is Trump’s arrest in Atlanta, GA, on Aug. 24, just one day after the grand parlay. That he was made to perform the notorious booking and have his mug shot taken was a calculated move by Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis. What she failed to foresee, however, was how Trump’s team would use the incident to its own benefit.
Within minutes of the mug shot release, Trump campaign swag and paraphernalia were for sale, each dollar going (presumably) toward legal fees. Within hours, the photo became an iconic symbol of defiance for the pro-Trump crowd, much to the chagrin of the White House, which also tried to capitalize on the image. Biden surrogates who asked what kind of man has a mugshot were inundated with responses: pictures of Martin Luther King Jr. being booked in Birmingham, AL.
Writing in Newsweek, Craig Scott – a filmmaker and activist who was sentenced to more than 50 years in prison under Joe Biden’s crime bill and then pardoned by Trump – insisted that the mug shot gave the former president “street cred.” He argued:
“Having experienced being arrested and booked, I can tell you there’s no such thing as a good looking mug shot. Seeing Trump’s has an especially impactful meaning to people like myself, formerly incarcerated individuals who languished under disproportionately harsh sentences.
“Many critics of Trump interpret his arrests as proof that he is unsuitable to return to the White House. But to my eyes, as I still struggle to repair my life from the damage of serving an unjust sentence, this is evidence that he may be just the right person for the job.
“He’s literally been in my shoes. No other president can brag on that. And believe me, he will brag about it. Such boasting will not fall on deaf ears.”
There is still a long way to go before the primary season finishes, and further still to the presidential election, and many things can happen along the way. But as it stands, Trump appears to be the immediate beneficiary of the GOP debate, while the biggest loser has been the anti-Trump wing of American politics. Since the arrest in Georgia, the former president has raised an estimated $7 million and come out ahead of Biden in both major polls. Between these two events, Trump’s contrarian nature seems to have given him an edge.
Liberty Nation Today:
Bidenomics Adds $1 Trillion to Debt in Three Months – Swamponomics - The national debt, stagflation, and beef. - Read Now!
ABC Poll Sends Democrats Into Orbit - As Yogi Berra used to say, it’s getting late early for Joe Biden. - Read Now!
Is Sending US Military Advisors to Ukraine a Good Idea? - The notion of sending Kyiv US on-the-ground trainers is growing. - Read Now!
Boston U Anti-Racism Center Blows $40 Million in Three Years - Nothing of substance produced and now a newspaper is investigating. - Read Now!
NFL to Bud Light: “Hold My Beer” - Some folks just refuse to learn from the mistakes of others. - Read Now!