Donald Trump is not regretting the decision he made to skip the first GOP primary debate, which was held last week in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Trump, who decided to skip the debate and instead air a pre-recorded interview he gave to former Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson, said this week that skipping the debate was the “right decision.”
As he wrote on his Truth Social site on Tuesday:
“My Poll numbers are UP since the very boring, record setting low (ratings!), Debate. Leading by BIG numbers. I made the right decision, and broke all records with the Tucker Carlson Interview!”
Trump is the far-and-away frontrunner in the crowded Republican presidential field thus far. He was hinting for a while that he would skip the GOP debates because he didn’t need to attend them, but didn’t officially announce his decision to skip the first one until a few days before the debate was held.
The former president consistently said that going onto the debate stage with the other GOP candidates would do little for him, since he had such a big lead in polls. So, instead, he controlled his own narrative by having a pre-recorded interview with Carlson air on X – the social media platform formerly called Twitter – start just as the Milwaukee debate was starting.
Different polls have shown different results from Trump’s decision to skip the Milwaukee debate. One poll did show that the former president lost some support among GOP voters after the debate, while Florida Governor Ron DeSantis picking up some support.
That poll, from Emerson College, revealed that Trump lost six percentage points from before the debate, while DeSantis, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and former Vice President Mike Pence all earned gains.
That being said, Trump still enjoys 50% support in that poll, while DeSantis is in second place – many points behind.
An internal poll conducted by the Trump campaign, which Semafor obtained, showed that Trump gained three points from a poll that was taken earlier in August. That poll showed Trump has 58% support, compared to DeSantis at 13% and Haley at 7%.
In a hypothetical head-to-head showdown with DeSantis, the internal Trump poll showed the former president enjoys a lead of 39 points.
In the week since the debate was held, Trump criticized the GOP candidates who took part, and the fact that ratings were so low.
Data from Nielsen Media Research revealed that 12.8 million people watched the debate. Fox also reported that the debate had higher viewership than 70% of all primary debates that were held during both election cycles in 2016 and 2020.
That being said, the viewership numbers from this year’s first GOP debate was considerably lower than the 20 million people who watched that first GOP debate in 2015, which was the first time Trump appeared on the stage.
There are more GOP debates planned leading up to the official launch of primary season early next year, but it looks like Trump won’t be attending any of those, either.