Firehouse Poll of GOP Primary

August 21, 2023

As first reported in Semafor, Firehouse Strategies conducted a poll of likely Republican primary voters ahead of Wednesday’s debate to better understand the political environment. Here is what we found:

Firehouse Strategies Poll: Republicans Want Trump To Debate
66% of GOP voters say Trump should debate, including 77% of Trump supporters

Two-thirds of Republican primary voters want to see former President Donald Trump on the debate stage, according to a new national survey released by Firehouse Strategies, a bipartisan public affairs firm. That number is even higher among Trump’s voters, 77% of whom say he should participate, suggesting that he risks disappointing his base if he fails to show up at the first debate on Wednesday night.

The survey was conducted August 15-17, as Trump publicly signaled that he was unlikely to attend the debate.

Consistent with other public surveys, Firehouse found that former President Trump continues to dominate the field with 50% support among primary voters. The 50% of Republicans not currently supporting Trump are deeply split on who they prefer:

16% DeSantis
9% Ramaswamy
6% Pence
5% Christie
4% Haley
3% Scott
<0.5% Hutchinson
<0.5% Burgum
<0.5% Elder
<0.5% Hurd
0% Binkley
0% Johnson
0% Suarez
6% Undecided

As the campaign enters the critical fall period, beating Trump appears very difficult but not impossible: Trump has a combined 64% who are either voting for him or considering him. But his core base is only 20% (those who identify as Trump GOPers and are definitely voting for him). That’s slightly smaller than the “Never Trump” wing at 23%. The key for any candidate to defeat Trump is gaining support among the 57% of the electorate that is “Trump Acceptable” — Trump is currently winning that group with 52%, which accounts for his large lead over the rest of the field.

In addition to his reluctance to debate, Trump’s refusal to sign the RNC “loyalty pledge” could also hurt him with primary voters as 71% say it is important that GOP candidates sign the Republican National Committee’s pledge to honor the will of primary voters and support the eventual nominee, including 43% who say it is very important.

The survey also found that most Republicans will not bail on Trump because of his legal troubles: If Trump wins the nomination and is found guilty, 54% of Republican primary voters say he should still be the nominee. Only 35% of Republicans say the GOP should replace him with a more electable candidate if he is convicted.

Methodology: The Firehouse poll, conducted in conjunction with 3D Strategic Research, surveyed 858 Republican presidential primary voters online, using a mix of text-to-web and Dynata’s online panel matched to the Data Trust voter file. The poll was conducted between August 15-17, 2023 and has a margin of error of +3.3%.