The 2024 Republican primary: Views on the second debate and Donald Trump

Taylor OrthDirector of Survey Data Journalism
October 05, 2023, 9:26 PM GMT+0

New polling from the Economist/YouGov conducted after the second Republican presidential debate finds that most Americans say they have read about or watched clips about what occurred during the debate. Compared to the first debate — which the largest share of Republican viewers believed Vivek Ramaswamy won — more pick Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as the winner of the second debate.

Among the Americans who are likely to vote in the Republican presidential primary — Republicans and Independents who lean Republican — and who watched or read about last week’s presidential debate, DeSantis is seen as the winner of the debate by 25% — more than double any other candidate's share. Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is in second place. Among this group of Republicans and Republican leaners who followed the debate in some form, about as many say no one won as say DeSantis did. Among Americans overall who followed the debate, DeSantis and Haley tied, but more say no one won than say either one of them did.

Former President Donald Trump sat out this debate, as he did the first one. Republicans are roughly evenly divided on whether he should have participated — but they are twice as likely to want him to take part in future debates than to not participate. (After the first debate, 57% said he should participate in the second debate.)

Trump remains the top choice among Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents for the GOP nomination, this week by a 45-point margin. Most (58%) say they would vote for Trump if the primary were held today, and only 13% say they'd vote for DeSantis; no one else gets more than 7% of the hypothetical vote.

Polling on the trial of the former president and of the Trump Organization demonstrates Americans' skepticism about business honesty. By 56% to 15%, Americans are more likely to say that it is at least somewhat common for companies to misrepresent their property values to obtain favorable loans and tax benefits — something the Trump Organization is accused of doing. Opinion on whether Trump misrepresented his own holdings to obtain favorable loans and tax benefits differs sharply by party: 80% of Democrats say he did, compared with only 18% of Republicans. Nearly half of Republicans (46%) say they aren’t sure whether he did, compared to just 13% of Democrats.

— Carl Bialik contributed to this article

See the toplines and crosstabs from the Economist/YouGov poll conducted on September 30 - October 3, 2023 among 1,500 U.S. adult citizens.

Methodology: Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to November 1, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 31% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 3%.

Image: Getty (Win McNamee)