UPDATED: Ramaswamy Ties DeSantis as Top-Tier Trump Rival in National GOP Poll

AP Photo/Meg Kinnard

Hedge fund investor and anti-ESG crusader Vivek Ramaswamy entered the top-tier of not-Trump Republican candidates when he was the choice of 12 percent of 800 likely Republican voters in a new poll—the same level of support for Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis—as both men trail President Donald Trump’s 48 percent.


The rest of the field came in as follows, when responding to the question, “If the 2024 Republican Presidential Primary were held today, for whom would you vote?” Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, 5 percent; South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, former vice president Mike Pence, 5 percent; former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, 3 percent, former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson, 1 percent and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, no support.

CREDIT: Kaplan Strategies

Kaplan Strategies conducted the poll with an online panel of cell phone users using web and text responses. The poll has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points from July 17 through July 18.

“President Donald Trump continues to lead the field with 48 percent, which is no surprise,” said Doug Kaplan, the founder of Kaplan Strategies, the firm that conducted the poll.

The surprise is that in the field of nine candidates we asked about, Ramaswamy has more than twice the support of six of the other hopefuls.

People talk about DeSantis fading, but he is still in the top-tier of not-Trump candidates, but now he has a peer. Really the question is, how will each camp react? I mean, will DeSantis and Ramaswamy start targeting each other?

Kaplan said the poll showed that Ramaswamy may have a higher ceiling, given that Republican voters are still not familiar with him.

DeSantis was rated Very Favorable by 23 percent and Somewhat Favorable by 36 percent, putting him at 59 percent favorable with GOP voters with only 10 percent Uncertain.

Ramaswamy came in with 17 percent Very Favorable and 39 percent Somewhat Favorable, so he was rated favorable by 56 percent of the respondents—roughly the same as DeSantis. However, 27 percent of the people we surveyed were Uncertain, which really means they just don’t know the guy. That makes it up to him or someone else to let people know who he is.


The Uncertain numbers for the other candidates tell another tale, putting their poll numbers in perspective: Burgum, 72 percent; Hutchinson, 61 percent; Scott, 38 percent, Haley, 31 percent, Christie, 22 percent and Pence, 8 percent.

Pence seems to have the lowest ceiling, with 92 percent of Republicans already making up their minds about him.

The other takeaway in the poll is the continued strength of Trump with Republican voters, despite the large field challenging him, according to Kaplan:

Forty-two percent of Republicans have a Very Favorable view of Trump with 27 percent having a Somewhat Favorable view of him—and it is no surprise at all that only 2 percent told us they were Uncertain about him. These bottom-tier candidates are really just nickel-and-diming Trump and the other two.

As time goes on, they will drop off and those voters will either go home to Trump or find a new home with Ramaswamy or DeSantis.

The poll was paid for by Kaplan Strategies.

UPDATE 7/21/23, 5 PM EDT:

After the poll was posted Chris Wilson, the pollster for the pro-DeSantis super PAC Never Back Down, blasted the poll on Twitter, by blasting the pollster Doug Kaplan. Wilson posted the link to a May 2016 Washington Post article that ridiculed a whopping miss in a Republican House primary by Doug Kaplan’s former firm Gravis Marketing. But, in the same article, the reporter wrote:

Other Gravis surveys have been accurate. In Republican presidential primaries in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware last week, the Florida-based firm came close to actual vote shares of winner Donald Trump and runner-up Ohio Gov. John Kasich.


Wilson also cited a Kaplan poll conducted in July 2022, regarding the Aug. 22 Florida Democratic gubernatorial primary that had Nikki Fried tied at 39 percent with Charlie Crist. Another poll by the University of Northern Florida released Aug. 16 had Fried at 47 percent and Crist at 43 percent. Crist beat Fried 60 percent to 35 percent. Wilson suggested Kaplan salted the poll to please the pro-Fried people who hired him–well, he did better than UNF’s poll.

When Kaplan ran Gravis Marketing, the firm’s polls were regularly posted at Real Clear Politics and included in the RCP polling averages. Here are some of the races Gravis nailed as posted at FiveThirtyEight:

  • 2016 New York Republican Presidential Primary Poll predicted Trump would win by 35 points, Trump won by 35 points.
  • 2016 National Presidential Poll predicted Democrat Hillary Clinton would win the popular vote by 5 points, Clinton won it by 5.3 points.
  • 2017 New Jersey Gubernatorial Poll predicted Democrat Phil Murphy would win by 14 points, Murphy won by 14 points.
  • 2020 Georgia Senate Runoff Poll predicted Democrat Ralph Warnock would win by 2 points, Warnock won by 2 points.

Wilson questioned the demographic data for the poll, and how the poll determined who was a Republican or not, but he was working off a Kaplan Strategies press release. It is the common practice for polling outfits to post the highlights from a poll without giving away the deep dive, or even the crosstabs.


Wilson also said he questioned the methodology of the poll, but Kaplan’s use of an online panel of cell phone users using web and text responses is not radical and it is a way pollsters try to capture a better sample than by calling landlines.


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