An absent Donald Trump was the real winner of the third Republican presidential debate and made the right decision not to attend an event watched by a dwindling audience, an exclusive DailyMail.com poll reveals.
Viewers may have given Ron DeSantis top marks for his performance during his battle with closest rival Nikki Haley in the Miami showdown on Wednesday.
But Republicans still believe Trump came out victorious – even though he was holding a rally a 30-minute drive away.
The results also affirm that the debates are of little consequence if the Republican kingmaker isn’t on the stage, especially with viewing figures plummeting.
An average of 7.51 million tuned into NBC on Wednesday night, compared to almost 13 million who watched the first debate on Fox News and 9.5 million who watched the second on Fox Business.
An absent Donald Trump was the real winner of the third Republican presidential debate and made the right decision not to attend again, an exclusive DailyMail.com poll reveals. The third debate also attracted almost 50% fewer viewers than the first
Currently, the five other candidates in the race are scrapping it out for a distant second place.
If the field narrows, one of them could close the gap with Trump in the battle to get on the ticket, but time is running out.
J.L. Partners asked 544 viewers who was the real winner in a poll conducted just hours after the debate.
Thirty percent said Trump came out on top, followed by 20 percent for Ron DeSantis and 19 percent for Vivek Ramaswamy.
Nikki Haley received 13 percent, while Tim Scott and Chris Christie came at the bottom of the pile with six and five percent, respectively.
When asked if Trump made the right decision to stay away, 64 percent said yes, and 29 percent said no. Eight percent said they ‘don’t know’.
‘He was down the street, doing something else entirely. But Donald Trump didn’t need to be at the debate to win it,’ James Johnson, founder of J.L. Partners told DailyMail.com.
‘While presidential candidates fight amongst themselves, Trump is sitting pretty – buoyed by a stagnant Biden presidency and what voters increasingly see as a politicised set of court hearings.
‘There is one risk to him though. If these debates lead to Republicans working out a clear opponent to put up to Trump – even if there is fighting along the way – then Trump could face a genuine challenge in the early primary states.
Trump riled up the crowd at his event in Hialeah by declaring the debate airing simultaneously ‘unwatchable’.
When asked if Trump made the right decision to stay away, 64 percent said yes, and 29 percent said no. Eight percent said they ‘don’t know’
He has continually called the debates a waste of time and has urged Republicans to unite behind him to defeat Joe Biden.
His campaign also confirmed he would not attend the fourth debate in December in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
‘Do you think we did the right thing by not participating?’ he asked a crowd of supporters.
‘Well listen, I’m standing in front of tens of thousands of people right now and it’s on television. That’s a lot harder than a debate,’ he said.
As at past events, his rivals spent much of their time going after each other rather than the dominant frontrunner – even when asked directly about him.
Trump called Haley ‘bird brain’ and called DeSantis ‘Ron desanctimonious,’ and trumpeted a poll that had him leading Joe Biden in a handful of key swing states (leaving out the one battleground in the New York Times poll where Biden led him – Wisconsin).
‘Stop wasting time and resources trying to push weak and ineffective RINOS,’ Trump complained while his rivals battled among themselves.
Trump riled up the crowd at his event in Hialeah by declaring the debate airing simultaneously ‘unwatchable’
Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis clashed on China, abortion and fracking. While Haley got drawn into battles with other candidates, viewers said the Florida governor was more ‘presidential’
DeSantis beat Haley out of sight in the third Republican presidential debate on Wednesday night, according to an exclusive DailyMail.com poll of viewers.
A string of recent polls has put DeSantis and Haley at level pegging in the race for second place overall.
‘Republican donors and kingmakers around the country are trying to work out who to back to go up against Trump: Ron DeSantis or Nikki Haley,’ said Johnson added.
‘Debate viewers at least have a clear answer: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
‘He is seen as having outperformed Haley by a margin of twenty points and beats her on every attribute including the most presidential, strongest on Israel and – crucially – who would be best to go up against Donald Trump.’
Johnson also said that Republicans have to unite around a candidate ‘fast’ if they want to put up a nominee other than Trump.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk