Dem 51
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GOP 49
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The GOP Debate, Part I: Dead Kitten Bounce for Ramaswamy?

In theory, according to Nate Silver and others, Vivek Ramaswamy was in line to be the primary beneficiary of last week's Republican candidates' debate. His positions are not exactly mainstream, but the Trumpy voters he's trying to appeal to aren't mainstream, either. He behaved like an a**hole that night, and Trumpy voters like that, so, he certainly did what he needed to do.

So, did it happen? The post debate polls are rolling in, so we can take a preliminary look. At the moment the debate started, Ramaswamy's average number, according to FiveThirtyEight, was 9.7% (and his ostensible rival, Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-FL, was at 15.2%, while Donald Trump was at 52.1%). There have been seven polls of the GOP field since then; here are the numbers for all three men:

Pollster Trump DeSantis Ramaswamy
InsiderAdvantage 45% 18% 7%
Kaplan Strategies 45% 10% 13%
Morning Consult 58% 14% 11%
Patriot Polling 41% 21% 5%
Ipsos 52% 13% 6%
Cygnal 42% 12% 15%
Emerson College 50% 12% 9%
Average 47.5% 14.2% 9.4%

As you can see, everyone's dropped a little bit. To the extent there is "progress" for Ramaswamy it's that he dropped a bit less than the others did. That's kind of a bounce, we guess... maybe. But if so, the effect is very small, and the bounce is not likely to last, since his best poll in this sample (the Cygnal poll) was commissioned by... the Vivek Ramaswamy campaign. A very small dead cat bounce? As you can see from the headline, seems like it's best described as a dead kitten bounce. Though since the bounce is actually a less serious drop, maybe we should call it a dead kitten ecnuob.

In short, if Ramaswamy was expecting big returns from the debate, it doesn't look like they are going to materialize. He tried to capitalize on his "momentum" this weekend, appearing on every weekend show that would have him, and offering up some whackadoodlery on each one. He also published a position paper on the Ukraine war, one that proposes that the U.S. give Russia everything it wants, in exchange for a promise from Vladimir Putin to end the Russian alliance with China. What a great plan, one that relies on Vlad the Impaler keeping his word. We bet Yevgeny Prigozhin can confirm that Putin is 100% trustworthy, and would never double cross anyone. Hmmmmm, Prigozhin doesn't seem to be answering his phone. Oh well, we'll certainly catch him sometime tomorrow, right?

Anyhow, it's not easy to capitalize on momentum if... you really don't have any. Presuming Ramaswamy is really just auditioning for a slot in a hypothetical Trump administration, then the numbers don't matter too much, excepting the fact that The Donald likes winners, not people who can't even overtake Ron DeSanctimonious. On the other hand, if Ramaswamy has even the faintest hope he'll be the Republican nominee, well, it's clear that nothing is going to change about that horse race until Trump dies or is convicted of a crime. And even then, it's 50/50 at best that a non-Trump candidate can give him an actual run for his money. (Z)

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