DeSantis Wins Fourth GOP Debate in New WaPo Poll

According to a new poll published by the Washington Post, Governor Ron DeSantis is the winner of the fourth GOP primary debate.

Four Republican Presidential hopefuls took to the stage in Alabama on Wednesday night for NewsNation’s debate event. DeSantis stood center stage with former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy. Former President Donald Trump was once again absent from the debate.

The 538-Washington Post-Ipsos survey found that the largest share of debate watchers felt Ron DeSantis won, with 30 percent responding that he “performed best.” Another 23 percent answered Haley won, 19 percent answered Christie and 16 percent answered Ramaswamy.

Respondents were also asked who “performed worst.” DeSantis and Haley received good marks, with only 7 and 9 percent of viewers awarding them a loss, respectively. Christie and Ramaswamy, by contrast received poor marks, with 31 and 37 percent of debate watchers giving them the lowest rating, respectively.

Generally, viewers rated the candidates’ performances lower than the third debate in November.

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The pollster also conducted surveys before and after the debate, asking GOP voters who they considered voting for in the primary. The Washington Post said they ultimately found the debate had minimal effect on Republican voters’ preferences for the GOP primary. No candidate experienced a shift in favorability larger than 2 percent–except for Christie, who gained 8 points.

DeSantis and Haley were neck-and-neck in terms of favorability. Fifty-six percent of debate watchers said they were considering voting for DeSantis, while 53 percent said they were considering Haley. Despite being absent from the debate stage, Trump topped the rankings, with 61 percent of viewers responding that they were considering him.

The poll was conducted following the debate between Wednesday and Thursday, including responses from 763 voters likely to participate in the 2024 GOP primary. The survey included a 4 percent margin of error.

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Following the debate, moderator Megyn Kelly also awarded DeSantis the win, saying that the Florida Governor had managed to thwart Haley’s recent momentum.

“I mean, with all respect to her, I thought Nikki Haley lost last night because she shrunk away like she was not really a presence, and she’s been increasing her poll numbers by getting out there and being pugilistic, and that version of her did not appear on stage last night,” Kelly said in her post-debate analysis.

“I thought Ron DeSantis had his best debate yet. And so I think you could probably say he’s the winner because he’s in the best poll position of the four.”

National politics reporter for ‘The Messenger’ Marc Caputo offered a similar verdict, calling it DeSantis’ best performance yet.

“[Fourth] time’s the charm. DeSantis’s best debate,” he wrote in a post on X. “To the degree he needed to have a moment and stop Haley from standing out, tonight did it.”

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