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Wisconsin Watch partners with Gigafact to produce fact briefs — bite-sized fact checks of trending claims. Read our methodology to learn how we check claims.


National polls put Donald Trump roughly 40 percentage points ahead of other 2024 Republican presidential candidates.

Here’s a look at two polling averages as of Aug. 21, 2023, two days before the first presidential debate in Milwaukee:

FiveThirtyEight: Trump, 52%; Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, 15% (37-point difference).

Real Clear Politics: Trump, 56%; DeSantis, 15% (41 points).

Here are recent polls:

CBS News/YouGov, released Aug. 20: Trump, 62%; DeSantis, 16% (46 points).

Emerson College, Aug. 19: Trump, 56%; DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy, 10% (46 points).

Fox News, Aug. 16: Trump, 53%; DeSantis, 16% (37 points). 

Morning Consult, Aug. 15: Trump, 57%; DeSantis, 16% (41 points).

Candidates in the Milwaukee debate must pledge not to participate in debates the GOP doesn’t sanction. Trump said prior to the debate that he planned not to attend.

Wisconsin has been decided by less than 1 percentage point in four of the last six presidential elections.

This Fact Brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.


FiveThirtyEight Latest Polls

Real Clear Politics 2024 Republican Presidential Nomination Polling Data

CBS News CBS News poll finds Trump’s big lead grows, as GOP voters dismiss indictments

Emerson Polling August 2023 National Poll: DeSantis Fades Into Tie with Ramaswamy; Trump Maintains Majority of GOP Support Ahead of Debate

Fox News Poll Q41-42 IF Republican Primary

Morning Consult Pro 2024 Republican Primary Polls

Wisconsin Watch Do Republican presidential candidates participating in the Milwaukee debate have to pledge not to participate in debates the GOP doesn’t sanction?

Wisconsin Watch Has Wisconsin been decided by less than 1 percentage point?

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Tom Kertscher joined as a Wisconsin Watch fact checker in January 2023 and contributes to our collaboration with the The Gigafact Project to fight misinformation online. Kertscher is a former longtime newspaper reporter, including at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who has worked as a self-employed journalist since 2019. His gigs include contributing writer for PolitiFact and sports freelancer for The Associated Press.