Poll in Iowa Shows DeSantis Closing the Gap on Trump After First Republican Debate

Former President Donald Trump remains leading polls among GOP presidential candidates. However, the gap between him and his one-time political protégé may narrow after the first GOP debate. 

A new poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies — a polling firm that works for the DeSantis campaign — shows Florida Governor Ron DeSantis closing in on Trump among voters in Iowa. 

The release of a campaign poll usually comes with a narrative or agenda, so the results should be taken with a grain of salt. 

The poll interviewed 400 likely Iowa Republican caucus-goers and included a ballot test that saw DeSantis rise from 14% support to 21% after the debate.

Despite not attending the debate, Trump lost only one percentage point, from 42% to 41%.

Former U.N. ambassador and Governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley also saw a substantial bump in the polls, rising from 3% before the debate to 11% after, while Senator from South Carolina Tim Scott lost a point from 8% to 7%.

Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy saw the biggest slide, dropping from 10% to 7%. The former Vice President, Mike Pence, remained at 2% in the poll. 

Both former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum dropped from 3% to 1% before the debate. 

Former Governor of Arkansas saw a slight bump, getting up to 1% after the debate, up from below 1% before the debate. 

The Public Opinion Strategies poll also found DeSantis closing the gap against the former president in a head-to-head matchup, with Gov. DeSantis having 40% support to Trump’s 43% post-debate.

Before the debate, DeSantis trailed with 34% to Trump’s 51%. 

The poll also found DeSantis topped the first debate, with 33% of respondees saying he was the strongest conservative on stage and 34% saying he could beat Trump.

Thirty-seven percent of respondents said the Florida governor would be able to defeat President Joe Biden, while 32% said he was the best leader on stage. In the poll, DeSantis also topped on the border issue. 

The candidate in second place was Ramaswamy, who 15% of respondents said was the strongest conservative, with 17% saying he could defeat Biden. Only 11 percent said he could beat Trump.

Despite that, Haley beat Ramaswamy in terms of being the strongest leader among poll respondents, with 15%. Scott was seen as a strong conservative, with 13% saying he showed the most strength.

Similarly, Pence was seen as a strong conservative, with 12% viewing him as the strongest conservative in the Wednesday evening debate. 

Ramaswamy faces some unwelcome news from poll

Vivek Ramaswamy also faces some unwelcome news from the poll, which said the tech entrepreneur “was simply a placeholder position on the debate stage for core Trump voters.”

Of the respondents who believe Ramaswamy won the Wednesday debate, 60% said they would vote for Trump in the general election. Twenty-one percent of polled individuals would vote for Ramaswamy and 10% for DeSantis. 

Among respondents who believed DeSantis won the debate, 64% backed the Florida governor, 28% would vote for former President Trump, 3% for Scott, and 3% for Nikki Haley.

Fifty percent of respondents who believed Haley won the debate said they would vote for her, while 13% said they would vote for DeSantis and 12% would back Trump.

The poll was conducted on August 24, following the fiery Wednesday debate among eight Republican candidates. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.6 percentage points.