Who won the first GOP debate? CNN brought on a panel of Republican voters from Iowa, a key early primary state, to discuss their thoughts on the matter. The news outlet, however, was in for a surprise given that most of the panel thought that former president Trump helped himself by not being at the debate. Most of the panel also thought that Vivek Ramaswamy, the most vocally pro-Trump candidate on stage, was the winner of the candidates who actually showed up for the debate.
The panel siding with Trump’s decision not to go to the debate can be watched here:
The CNN host asked the panelists, “How many of you think that Donald Trump hurt himself by not being part of this debate? Raise your hand please.” Only four of the panelists raised their hands. The host then asked, “How many of you think he helped himself by not being at the debate?” A lot more panelists raised their hands. The host observed, “Most of you [think he helped himself].”
The panel voting on which of the candidate who showed up to the debate won can be watched here:
The same CNN host asked the panelists, “Here is what I want to ask about who you did the best during the debate. Basically, who do you think won the debate? I am going to do it in alphabetical order to be fair.” The host then proceeded to mention the Republican candidates. No one raised their hands for Governor Doug Burgum (R-ND), Chris Christie, Asa Hutchinson, Mike Pence, or Senator Tim Scott ( R-SC). Only two panelists thought Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) performed the best compared to four panelists who voted for Nikki Haley. Vivek Ramaswamy was the candidate most of the panelists thought performed the best. 7 panelists rated Vivek’s performance as the best.
There was controversy marking who was allowed in the RNC-sponsored debate as Larry Elder and his campaign were not allowed on the stage or in the post-debate spin room discussion. Nor was Elder the only candidate whose surrogates were denied representation in the post-debate discussion as Trump staffers as well as Donald Trump Jr. were barred from entry. It also appears that Vivek’s campaign was on the banned list as well.
The Republican primary frontrunner Donald Trump appears to be in agreement with the voters on CNN’s panel as he too thought Mr. Ramaswamy was the victor of the debate. Trump remarked that Vivek’s comment during the debate that “President Trump, I believe, was the best president of the 21st century” was the “answer that gave Vivek Ramaswamy a big WIN in the debate because of a thing called TRUTH. Thank you Vivek!”