The 2024 race for the Republican presidential nomination began officially with a debate in battleground Wisconsin. Noticeably absent was former President Donald J. Trump, who still holds a sizable lead in the primary polls. This gave candidates a chance to make a mark. It included a few verbal sparring sessions and, of course, new – and old – rhetoric. Importantly, it left strategists wondering what to make of it. Did it even matter? Will it change anything? Could I have learned something that can be applied locally?
By polling viewers before and after the debate, FiveThirtyEight gathered and released findings that provide useful data-driven insight. With the FiveThirtyEight data in mind, we used Resonate AI to glean even deeper insight into how most Republican voters who are likely to vote in the primary are behaving online. We drew a few valuable conclusions.
Why and how is DeSantis hanging onto the number 2 slot?
The FiveThirtyEight poll found DeSantis received the highest average grade for his debate performance amongst viewers. Now that we’re through the first debate and have seen all the other candidates, the main question is: How is DeSantis leading the pack, minus Trump?
Using Resonate behavioral insights, we built and analyzed two online audiences to help answer this question: (1) Registered Republicans who would vote for DeSantis if the election was held tomorrow; and (2) Registered Republicans who would vote for Trump if the election was held tomorrow.
We then had the Resonate proprietary AI neural network, rAI, compare the two audiences to see where DeSantis is separating himself from Trump and what DeSantis may be doing right, or just more right, than his other competitors.
(Source: Resonate Ignite Platform, August 2023)
When comparing likely DeSantis voters against Trump voters, DeSantis supporters are 150% more likely to believe partisan politics are a major threat to the country. Moreover, they are 130% more likely to vote for candidates (up and down the ballot) who exercise bipartisanship.
DeSantis’ positioning as a Trump-policy supporter, minus the Trump baggage and partisan fire that comes along with it, is a big reason he’s the number 2.
Additionally, Resonate data shows that DeSantis supporters are 64% more likely to view the far left, or what they may call the “woke mob,” as a major threat to the country.
In the debate, Desantis continued to frame himself as an anecdote to “wokeness.” He also highlighted his long commitment to service, from his current tenure as governor to his years serving as a Seal Team advisor in a warzone. To DeSantis voters, he’s a more pragmatic choice for government.
Haley’s boost explained.
The FiveThirtyEight poll found that Nikki Haley, more than any other candidate, convinced voters she is the woman for the job. The poll found:
30 percent of debate watchers were considering her before the debate, and 47 percent are considering her after it. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (+8 percentage points), Ramaswamy (+5 points) and DeSantis (+4 points) saw more modest increases.
Haley had a great night and was able to showcase her diplomatic acumen and no-nonsense approach to dealing with threats from powers like Russia and China. Resonate primary voter data show that Haley is smart to establish herself as the expert and leader on foreign affairs.
Resonate AI Elements data revealed an audience of 38.3 million registered Republican voters online who vote in presidential primaries at least half the time. We compared that audience with an audience of 12.7 million registered Republican voters online who vote in presidential primaries less than half the time or not at all. Here’s what we found that’s positive for a candidate like Haley:
Republican voters online who vote in presidential primaries at least half the time are:
- 120% more likely to vote for a candidate based on their foreign policy record and
- 80% more likely to vote for a candidate based on their military and defense platform.
- 25% more likely to vote for a candidate based on their homeland security views.
- 40% more likely to psychologically value a sense of safety in their community and nation.
(Source: Resonate Ignite Platform, August 2023)
Resonate data clearly shows that Republican primary voters are concerned and interested in hearing from candidates on issues of homeland security and foreign affairs. It’s one of the reasons Haley is starting to get more attention.
These and other audiences are just a few of thousands of primary voter segments that can be built using rAI and Resonate Elements. You can build, analyze, hyper-segment and target audiences at the local, state and federal levels and scale to 230M US profiles.
Niche voter data matters, especially in the primaries. You get one shot to make it to the big time, and Resonate has the ability to track online voter sentiment in real-time so candidates can target smaller segments of Americans to win their vote in this battle that will be won by inches.
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