Poll finds roughly one-third of Republicans won't watch primary debate, don't think debates are important

 August 24, 2023

A recent poll found that a sizeable minority of Republicans were unlikely to watch the first Republican primary debate on Wednesday, nor do they think such debates are particularly important to the primary process, according to Breitbart.

Given those findings, it seems likely that former President Donald Trump will escape suffering too much negative backlash from Republican or independent voters over his decision to skip the debate hosted by Fox News in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

He instead sat for a pre-taped interview with former top-rated Fox News host Tucker Carlson that was broadcast as a form of counterprogramming on X-Twitter at the same time as the debate was broadcast live.

Will people watch the first GOP primary debate?

The Economist/YouGov surveyed 1,500 U.S. adults between August 19-22, with a 3.2 percent margin of error, and asked them if they thought they would watch the first Republican primary debate on Wednesday.

Overall, a combined 38 percent said they "definitely" (11 percent) or "probably" (27 percent) would watch the debate, while a combined 47 percent said they "definitely" (26 percent) or "probably" (21 percent) would not watch the debate.

Among those who identify as Republicans, 52 percent said that they "definitely" (19 percent) or "probably" (33 percent) would watch compared to 36 percent who "definitely" (15 percent) or "probably" (21 percent) would not watch, with virtually the same results for those who previously voted for Trump.

As for the independent voters, just 27 percent said they "definitely" (7 percent) or "probably" (20 percent) would watch the GOP candidates debate without Trump, while 57 percent said they "definitely" (35 percent) or "probably" (22 percent) would not watch that event.

How important are primary debates in choosing a candidate?

The pollsters also asked respondents how important the primary debates are in terms of their deciding which candidate to support to be the party's nominee, and again found a substantial minority that simply doesn't factor the debates into their decision-making process.

Overall, 58 percent said the primary debates are either "very" (23 percent) or "somewhat" (35 percent) important to their ultimate decision, compared to 29 percent who said the debates are either a "not very" (17 percent) or "not at all" (12 percent) important factor in their decision-making.

Among Republicans, there was a combined 30 percent who no longer view the primary debates as being important, and 29 percent of Trump voters said the same. And among independents, the figure was slightly higher, as a combined 32 percent likely won't factor the debates into their eventual decision on which candidate to support.

Skipping debates likely won't hurt Trump much, if at all

To be sure, as those polls showed, there remains a roughly two-thirds majority who still view the partisan primary debates as an important factor in deciding who to support as a presidential candidate, so the primary debates themselves are likely in little danger of being abolished or substantially altered from their current format.

That said, nearly one-third of Americans do not feel the same about the importance of the debates, nor do they have any plans to watch them.

Thus, the possibility of former President Trump's choice to skip the first Republican debate on Fox News -- if not all of the planned GOP primary debates -- eventually harming his standing in the polls will likely be mitigated.

As of now, Trump holds a 41.1-point lead over his nearest rival with around 55.4 percent support in the RealClearPolitics average of Republican primary polls, and it will be interesting to see if that margin grows larger or smaller over the coming days and weeks as new polls taken after the Trump-less debate are factored into the equation.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
© 2015 - 2024 Conservative Institute. All Rights Reserved.