More Republicans Thought DeSantis Won First Debate


A new Washington Post/FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos poll finds 29% of debate viewers thought Gov. Ron DeSantis came out on top, followed by Vivek Ramaswamy at 26%, Nikki Haley at 15% and Mike Pence at 7%. “The findings may be surprising because DeSantis generally stayed above the fray in a raucous debate, though Ramaswamy received and delivered lots of barbs.”

Trump-Free GOP Debate Draws Nearly 13 Million Viewers

12.8 million

“An average of 12.8 million viewers watched the event telecast from Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee… The TV audience was larger than what any Republican presidential primary debate drew during the 2012 campaign season, four years before Trump emerged as the main attraction. It also surpassed audience of 12.5 million for Fox News’ January 2016 primary debate held in Iowa, which Trump skipped as well,” the Los Angeles Times reports. By contrast, Mashable reported that, as of the publication of this article on Thursday evening, Carlson’s Trump interview has received 14.8 million video views on X.

Everyone Hates Vivek

“Everyone hates Vivek. That was the biggest takeaway from the Fox News debate on Wednesday night. And who can blame them?” … “Out of the gate, he looked pompous and oleaginous, with what can only be described as a smarmy, shit-eating grin that belied his sharp elbows. Regarding the slickness, Christie observed that he sounded ‘like ChatGPT.’ And regarding the elbows, at one point, even Sen. Tim Scott—you know, the optimistic guy who has a reputation for being too nice—even accused him of ‘being childish.’”

Matt Lewis

The Line: The GOP Debate in Iowa

  • Andrew Sullivan, the Dish at the Daily Beast: “The winners tonight were the Fox interviewers, Baier and Wallace, who pulled no punches in this battle and asked some very tart and tough questions of the various candidates. I think Bachmann is the current front-runner in Iowa and the debate tonight will cement her status. T-Paw was better; Romney came across as even shiftier than usual; Huntsman let his nerves get the better of him; Ron Paul’s freshness has waned; Herman Cain was hopeless; Gingrich was very very angry; and Santorum is so exercized about Iran he even wandered into a defense of gays! Awesome.”
  • Kevin Drum at Mother Jones: “I thought tonight’s debate was much closer than the last one. I didn’t really see any clear winners or losers … I’m obviously not the target audience for these folks, so it hardly matters what I thought about them. Still, what’s so striking about this group is that aside from Ron Paul there’s just hardly any real daylight between them. The questioners tried mightily to provoke some arguments, and they did manage to get a few small ones going over relative minutia, but for the most part they’re still just trying to out-tea party each other.”
  • David Weigel at Slate: “It wasn’t the stiffest of competitions, but this was the best, most clarifying debate between the Republican candidates.”On Bachmann’s performance: “The best thing that happened to her was the question about whether she’d be ‘submissive’ to her husband if she was president. The boos lasted for an uncomfortably long time; she gamely, sarcastically thanked Byron York for the question. It was yet another moment for her to prove that the media treats her unfairly. And since it was the only question on social issues that was directed to her, she missed, one more time, a chance to respond to the damaging ‘ex-gay clinic’ story.”
  • The Caucus at the New York Times: “As they tried to blame President Obama for the nation’s lowered credit rating, the Republican presidential candidates who squared off Thursday night in Iowa made several misleading, incomplete or simply false claims…Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota repeated her assertion that ‘we should not have increased the debt ceiling .. In the last two months, I was leading on the issue of not increasing the debt ceiling,’ she said. ‘That turned out to be the right answer.’ The ratings agency that lowered the credit rating, Standard & Poor’s …lamented in its report on the downgrade that ‘the statutory debt ceiling and the threat of default have become political bargaining chips in the debate over fiscal policy.’ It was Republicans in Congress who made it a bargaining chip.
  • Politifact: “Bachmann said raising the debt ceiling gave Obama a “blank check.” PolitiFact Virginia checked that when Eric Cantor said it about a debt ceiling plan from Harry Reid and found it False.”
  • Tina Korbe at Hot Air: “In general, I prefer to reward action over inaction and I respect the willingness of these candidates to “put themselves out there” tonight, but I have to agree with the cliche: Rick Perry was the real winner tonight.”
  • Ed Morrissey also at Hot Air: “I tweeted that [‘Rick Perry was the real winner tonight’] as the debate ended, Tina, and Chuck Todd followed it by predicting that sentiment would be the trite, cliche tweet of the night — but I think it was true to some extent. As the gloves came off between Pawlenty and Bachmann, then Santorum and Paul, and all night between Newt Gingrich and the same Fox News that employs him, it seemed that the entire debate ran off the rails.”