Standings of the GOP Candidates After The Last Two Debates

AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell

Gillian Herman

The GOP has hosted two more Republican Presidential debates since their first one took place in August. These debates have been used to narrow down the candidates running for President, and that is exactly what they have done.

The second GOP debate was hosted by Fox Business on September 27, 2023 at the Reagan Presidential Library. Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, Mike Pence, Chris Christie, Tim Scott, and Doug Burgam all took part in this debate. They qualified for the debate by reaching the voting and fundraising limits and by signing a pledge to support the GOP nominee for president. Ron DeSantis presented as the frontrunner. He answered questions clearly and concisely. He stayed true to what he has been saying throughout his entire campaign. He came off as very charismatic despite his awkward smile at the end of every question. Nikki Haley has solidified herself as the establishment candidate, someone who is able to gain support from conservative leaning Democrats, independents, and liberal leaning conservatives. She stayed true to what she said during her first debate. Vivek Ramaswamy seems like he was just there to wreak havoc and provide comedic entertainment. He has good points and views on a lot of issues, but it is hard to take him seriously when he yells at everyone. It has become apparent that he is trying to fill in the role that Donald Trump has left empty.

The third GOP debate was hosted by NBC. It featured only 5 candidates, a decrease from the 7 that participated in the previous debate. Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, Tim Scott, and Chris Christie. To qualify for this debate candidates had to be polling at least 4 percent in two national surveys, or one national survey and two early voting state surveys. These criteria were also partnered with limits on donations. With separation becoming increasingly visible between the candidates, they each played their roles to a t. Ramaswamy had the moment of the night when he called out Ronna McDaniel, the head of the Republican National Committee, for allowing the debate to be hosted by NBC. Ron DeSantis seemed much more lively, actually willing to get into arguments with the other candidates. On the same note, Nikki Haley took a much more attacking role in this debate and found herself in more than one argument with Ramaswamy. She did have a very peculiar comeback to one of Ramaswamy’s one-liners regarding her wearing heels. Again, Ramaswamy took on the role of defending former President Donald Trump, and found himself arguing with Chris Christie for the majority of the debate, one of Trump’s harshest critics. It seems like Ramaswamy is not running for president, but for vice-president if Trump is declared the nominee of the GOP. Ron DeSantis has found himself as the candidate for people who do not want Donald Trump, but believe that Nikki Haley is too liberal. Tim Scott, while being incredibly energetic, again seemed to just be parroting what other candidates said.

From these last two debates, it is clear that there are only two real candidates besides Donald Trump: Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley. Polls have shown the clear divide. Trump still holds a commanding lead and is polling at 59.8 percent. DeSantis, the closest candidate, is polling at just 13 percent. He is followed closely by Haley who is polling at 10.5 percent. As the field keeps on narrowing, it will be interesting to see if anyone is able to challenge Donald Trump. 

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