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Measuring the Vivekquake

Ramaswamy’s success on the debate stage was yet another reminder that the G.O.P. establishment is largely out of touch with primary voters.
Ramaswamy’s success on the debate stage was yet another reminder that the G.O.P. establishment is largely out of touch with primary voters. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Tara Palmeri
August 24, 2023

For the Republican establishment and donor class—the post-Bush Bushies who fantasize of a Glenn Youngkin presidency (tax cuts, carried interest, Episcopalianism, etcetera)—last night in Milwaukee was a reminder that the real world exists outside the country club gates. This cohort, which was desperately pining for a post-Robot Ron alternative to take on Donald Trump, instead found that what the people really want appears to be motor-mouthed biotech founder Vivek Ramaswamy. (Alas, DeSantis’s sclerotic performance hardly delivered the sort of charismatic political warrior poetry that the G.O.P. establishment, including Mitch McConnell, once considered inevitable.) 

Perhaps not surprisingly, virtually nobody proved that they could take on Trump, who sat out the debate in lieu of a bizarre, meandering, and notably low-energy interview with Tucker Carlson on the app formerly known as Twitter. “The general feeling is that most of these ‘candidates’ are auditioning to be bridesmaids,” said a G.O.P. donor advisor. “When every hand went up but one when they asked whether they would vote for Trump (even if he’s indicted) over Biden, I’d say that sealed the deal.”