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  • Geoffrey Skelley

FiveThirtyEight: Vivek Ramaswamy Is Climbing. Where Can He Go?

September 1, 2023 -- At last week’s Republican debate, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy arguably made the biggest splash of any candidate. Sharing center stage with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the entrepreneur spoke more than any contender other than former Vice President Mike Pence and even briefly surpassed the absent front-runner, former President Donald Trump, in Google search traffic.

Built partly on his personal wealth and media savvy, Ramaswamy’s longshot candidacy has crystallized into something that is, if not quite at the level of constituting a serious challenge, at least competitive enough to draw more attention. On debate day, he stood at about 10 percent in FiveThirtyEight’s national polling average, up from 4 percent in early July. Similar to less heralded candidates who came before him, Ramaswamy is now facing more scrutiny from fellow Republicans and the media. His primary opponents criticized his positions and inexperience during the debate, while his comments about some issues — such as the possible involvement of the federal government in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — have prompted journalists to more closely examine Ramaswamy. So as Ramaswamy stands on the precipice of becoming a big-time candidate, we took a look at who is backing him, what his potential ceiling might be and which other GOP candidate(s) he could take support from in the coming weeks and months.

That said, there’s limited evidence that Ramaswamy tends to perform somewhat better among more educated voters. A HarrisX/American Free Enterprise Chamber of Commerce poll conducted just before the debate found Ramaswamy at 10 percent support nationally, but 12 percent among likely voters who had at least a four-year college degree and 8 percent among those without one. Another HarrisX pollconducted right after the debate for The Messenger (this time of registered voters) also found a similar gap. And while mid-August surveys from Echelon Insights/Republican Main Street Partnership and JMC Analytics found Ramaswamy at different overall levels of support — 15 percent and 5 percent, respectively — each also showed him doing slightly better with college-educated voters.


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