FACT CHECK: Vivek Ramaswamy Misleads On Polling Numbers

Christine Sellers | Fact Check Reporter

During an Aug. 29 MSNBC appearance, 2024 Republican presidential candidate and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy claimed he is in second place in national polls.

Screenshot captured via Grabien

Verdict: Misleading

Ramaswamy is second place in only three national polls, two of which were post-debate, data from FiveThirtyEight and RealClearPolitics shows.

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“If you look at many of the national polls in the last couple of days, I’m polling in second place to [former President Donald] Trump,” Ramaswamy told host Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC.

The claim appears to be misleading. Ramaswamy is only in second place in two national polls, data from FiveThirtyEight shows. Both Cygnal and Kaplan Strategies placed Ramaswamy in second place on Aug. 24 at 15% and 13%, respectively, according to the same data.

Screenshot/FiveThirtyEight (Numbers as of Aug. 30)

Screenshot/FiveThirtyEight (Numbers as of Aug. 30)

An Aug. 28 piece from Benzinga revealed Ramaswamy’s poll numbers from a poll conducted by McLaughlin & Associates between Aug. 15 and 23, before the first Republican presidential debate, put him over Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

National polling data collated by RealClearPolitics puts Ramaswamy in third place behind Trump and Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis for the span of Aug. 17 to Aug. 29. The data includes national polls from the Economist/YouGov, Reuters/Ipsos, and Yahoo News, among others. RealClearPolitics’ polling data average for Ramaswamy is 7.3%, compared to DeSantis’ 13.5%.

Screenshot/RealClearPolitics (Numbers as of Sept. 1)

Screenshot/RealClearPolitics (Numbers as of Sept. 1)

Although Ramaswamy appears to be trailing behind DeSantis in third place, Ramaswamy has still risen in the polls. In an Aug. 12 piece, Politico noted that Ramaswamy was at a 6.1% average for RealClearPolitics in contrast to 3.1% the previous month and 2.2% the month before that. The outlet also noted the first Republican debate of the 2024 campaign, which hadn’t occurred at the time, could influence Ramaswamy’s poll numbers depending on his performance.

DeSantis’s polling numbers are at an average of 14.8% as of Aug. 30, according to the same data from FiveThirtyEight.

Despite still polling behind DeSantis nationally, Ramaswamy took center stage at the first Republican debate of the 2024 campaign cycle, including criticizing former New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie and former South Carolina Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, according to The Associated Press. (RELATED: Vivek Ramaswamy Claims The Atlantic Misquoted Him About Federal Agents And 9/11)

Dr. Samara Klar, a professor at the University of Arizona’s School of Government and Public Policy, said whether Ramaswamy is second in the polls is up for debate.

“I’ve been tracking primary polls and there are usually seven candidates who show up with Trump taking most of the support, which leaves a small margin to be spread across the other candidates. We have certainly seen a rise in the polls with Ramaswamy getting more support but whether he is in second place is up for debate,” Klar said.

Klar noted that Ramaswamy has shown up in second, third, and fourth place depending on the polls.  Klar added that she wouldn’t say any candidate is in second place because there’s “too much fluidity” with polling numbers currently.

Still, Ramaswamy’s claim does not demonstrate “extreme malfeasance,” Klar said, as candidates often tend to highlight their favorite poll number at the time. Klar said this is a “pretty standard campaign tactic” and pointing to popularity in the polls will be an advantage to candidates who are not the incumbent or household names, which would demonstrate to voters “[the candidate is] electable.”

A spokesperson for the Ramaswamy campaign stated that “what he said is correct,” and pointed Check Your Fact to the Kaplan Strategies poll. The spokesperson did not provide any other examples of Ramaswamy polling in second place.

Update: This piece has been updated with a response from the Ramaswamy campaign. The rating remains unchanged.

Christine Sellers

Fact Check Reporter