CNN’s Gary Tuchman interviewed a focus group of Republican caucus-goers and Young Republican voters in Iowa after the first debate.

First question: “How many thought tonight’s debate was good for the Republican party?” By my count four did not raise their hands. A man who did not raise his hand said the debate was not good for the Republican party because it was “divisive”. From the discussion it became clear he has tunnel vision for Donald Trump, who failed to step forward and face his challengers.

Tuchman then took a straw poll of the group and asked them to raise their hand to indicate who was, in their opinions, the winner: North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum-zero votes, Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie-zero votes, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis-two votes, Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley-four votes, Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson-zero votes, Former Vice President Mike Pence-zero votes, Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy-eight votes (Tuchman said seven, but I counted eight), and Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina-zero votes. One man in the back didn’t vote and didn’t say why.

Nikki Haley placed second in the straw poll. Her votes came from some of the Young Republicans and a young woman in the front row.

It is worth noting that one of Vivek Ramaswamy’s votes came from the dedicated Trumper mentioned above.

What can we infer?

  1. In spite of his Navy background and in spite of his war on WOKE (or possibly because of his war on WOKE) Governor DeSantis polled third.
  2. Young Republicans and young Republican women like Nikki Haley.
  3. Vivek Ramaswamy, the only Hindu candidate, seems to be emerging from out of the pack. I would attribute his apparent popularity to his winning smile and positive attitude.
  4. The fact that Mike Pence got no votes in spite of his stature and experience indicates to me that Republicans are decidedly against establishment politicians. For better or worse, they want someone who they see as an outsider.
  5. If we combine Vivek Ramaswamy’s popularity with Donald Trump’s popularity from 2016, I am led to conclude that Republicans not only prefer outsiders, but that they like men who have a ton of money. I suppose that Republicans see those two men as successful representatives of the possibilities of the American Dream. Unfortunately, that perception doesn’t really hold true since both men inherited gigantic wads of money.