A Daily Mail poll conducted after Wednesday’s GOP presidential primary debate has found that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis beat former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.
“In a head-to-head match-up, 56 percent of respondents said DeSantis performed better than Haley, according to a poll of 544 viewers. … In contrast, 35 percent said Haley did better,” the Daily Mail exclusively reported following the debate.
Likewise, in the head-to-head match-up, viewers rated DeSantis more persuasive by 12 points, more presidential by 26 points, and stronger by 19 points.
When asked who’s better positioned to defeat former President Donald Trump in the GOP presidential primary elections, 53 percent chose DeSantis, and only 29 percent chose Haley.
Good night #TeamSanity Judging from the flash polls tonight, if you’re MAGA, obnoxious Vivek won the debate. If you’re a Neocon and love endless wars Haley won the debate. If you’re a sane normal person DeSantis won the debate. And nobody thinks Scott or Christie won… pic.twitter.com/81PrmhtjXC — Jill Anthony (@JillSAnthony) November 9, 2023
“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. Debate viewers at least have a clear answer: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis,” J.L. Partners co-founder James Johnson, co-founder of J.L. partners told the Daily Mail.
“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 added.
J.L. Partners is the polling company that conducted the actual poll on behalf of the Daily Mail.
“‘DeSantis did what he needed to do,” donor Dan Eberhart said to the Daily Mail. “He was calm, measured and presidential. He showed he’s the only alternative to Trump.”
The problem, of course, is that the actual primary is set to begin in only two months, yet Trump still holds a massive lead over his competitors. As of Thursday morning, he was ahead of DeSantis by an average of 43.7 percentage points, according to data from RealClearPolitics.
Making matters worse, DeSantis is reportedly hemorrhaging donors to Trump.
A Rob DeSantis donor just texted me “after that debate performance, I’m ending my support of his campaign.” This comes just 12 hours after news broke that DeSantis’ biggest donor, Robert Bigelow, is considering switching to Trump. DeSantis is DeDone. — Alex Bruesewitz (@alexbruesewitz) November 9, 2023
“Hotel magnate Robert Bigelow, the largest individual donor to a super PAC supporting the presidential bid of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), is considering switching allegiances to former president Donald Trump,” The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
“I’ve got to look at who would probably be the strongest commander, with the most experience . . . And that’s only one guy. Who would you want as a commander? I’d want somebody that would be a hell of an ass kicker if he needed to be. On the face of it, you lean toward Trump,” Bigelow said in an interview.
“I think Trump is too strong. I think Trump has the momentum, the inertia, to beat him,” Bigelow continued, adding that Trump is a “bull” while DeSantis is “dinner.”
It was only months ago in March that Bigelow wrote DeSantis’ campaign a $20+ million check. What happened? Evidently, his affinity for the Florida governor began to falter after he signed a six-week abortion ban in April.
“Six weeks, she just found out she’s pregnant, the odds are. It’s a sham. It’s make-believe. It’s condescending,” Bigelow said.
After Bigelow reportedly publicly bashed DeSantis in August and threatened to turn off the money spigot, he expected the governor to call him. But the governor never did. Instead, his wife, Casey, made the call. Bigelow didn’t appreciate that.
“Not having him bothering to call me for an explanation taught me that he’s more of a user of people, actually, and that I didn’t matter enough for him to pick up the phone,” he said.
Meatball Ron’s biggest donor, Nevada real estate investor Robert Bigelow, says he’s considering switching his support to Donald Trump. Bigelow gave more than $20mm to Meatball earlier this year, the largest donation to any 2024 candidate pic.twitter.com/0JOe7heOfA — Chris P. Bacon (@ChrisPeeeBacon) November 8, 2023
Bigelow also complained that DeSantis has become “way too focused on conservatism” versus Trump’s supposed social moderation. And he complained that the Florida governor was less willing to get his hands dirty.
“If he’s [Trump’s] going to be in the gutter and you want to beat him, you better be willing and ready and able to go in the gutter too. You better be able to kill — and that’s not who Ron is,” he said.
Asked for comment, a spokesperson for the Florida governor pointed to the following remarks that he’d made in August: “If I had a nickel for every naysayer I’ve had in my life, I’d be a very, very wealthy man.”