Oct 31, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Iowa poll: Trump gets a hall pass on skipping GOP debates

 Republican presidential candidate former U.S. President Donald Trump hosts a campaign event at the Orpheum Theater on October 29, 2023 in Sioux City, Iowa

Former President Trump hosts a campaign event at the Orpheum Theater on Oct. 29 in Sioux City, Iowa. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

57% of likely Iowa Republican caucusgoers say that former President Trump missing the GOP presidential debates does not matter to them, according to a Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom Iowa poll.

Why it matters: Trump is expected to snub the third Republican primary debate next week. He hasn't debated since Oct. 22, 2020.

By the numbers: 42% of those polled say Trump should participate in at least one debate before the caucuses, which are scheduled for Jan. 15.

  • When it comes to the caucuses, 43% said Trump is their first choice. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former UN ambassador Nikki Haley were tied for second at 16%.
  • The poll also found that 65% of likely Republican caucusgoers think that Trump, who faces 91 criminal counts in four jurisdictions, can win against President Biden regardless of his legal woes.
  • Less than a third of likely Republican caucusgoers think that Trump's legal challenges will make it "nearly impossible" to win against Biden.

The big picture: Trump's campaign has urged the Republican National Committee to cancel future debates, saying that the RNC should instead "refocus its manpower" on beating President Biden in 2024.

  • The third GOP debate is scheduled for Nov. 8 in Miami, Fla.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have all qualified, their campaigns told Axios.

Go deeper: GOP field under pressure to consolidate amid Trump domination

Go deeper