Election 2024

Donald Trump wins Iowa caucuses, while Ron DeSantis defies expectations

Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis
Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis Photo: Shutterstock composite

Former president Donald Trump has won the Iowa caucuses, the long-awaited first election in the 2024 Republican presidential primary. Trump’s victory gives him 40 state delegates to help nominate him at the GOP national convention in July. His victory also continues the public perception of him as the presumptive GOP presidential nomination.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, came in second place over former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley — despite this, DeSantis’s representatives complained about media’s “election interference” after numerous mainstream media outlets declared Trump as the winner early into the evening. Nevertheless, DeSantis’s win will boost his sagging candidacy. Numerous media headlines had highlighted her beating him in state polls. However, the upcoming New Hampshire primary could shake up the race — especially if DeSantis or Haley scores an unexpected first-place win over Trump.

Iowa local election officials and candidates all worried that regional snowstorms and zero-degree weather would hamper the caucuses’ turnout. However, by the time of this article’s publication, with 82% of precincts reporting, Trump won 50.9%. DeSantis got second place with 21.2%; Haley got third with 19.2%; and Vivek Ramaswamy got 7.7%.

Trump’s nearly 30% win above DeSantis and Haley signals his continued domination position in the race, even as Trump faces 91 felony criminal charges and infamy for trying to overturn his 2020 election loss. Haley and DeSantis will now continue their months-long battle for second place.

Despite DeSantis ultimately winning second place, near 8:51 p.m. EST, DeSantis staffer Andrew Romeo wrote via X, “Absolutely outrageous that the media would participate in election interference by calling the race before tens of thousands of Iowans even had a chance to vote. The media is in the tank for Trump and this is the most egregious example yet.”

When New Hampshire’s primary takes place on January 23, moderate voters there could aid Haley’s bid. In fact, she explicitly told New Hampshire voters that their election will “correct” Iowa’s results. But poll-watchers consider that primary unlikely to break Trump’s strong national lead. In New Hampshire, Trump still has an average of 43.5% support among voters, and Haley has 29.3% (as of Monday, January 15). If Trump also beats Haley in the February 3 primary in her home state of South Carolina, where she served as governor from 2010 to 2017, her campaign may end.

The Iowa caucus results also signal the end of Vivek Ramaswamy’s campaign. The fourth-place finisher and rabid transphobe had failed to qualify for the last televised GOP primary debate. Nevertheless, he had downplayed drop-out rumors, as all remaining candidates had said that they’d already planned campaign events in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, and other early primary states.

All four candidates campaigned heavily in Iowa, with Trump’s rivals encouraging caucus-goers to ignore the polls, the news, and social media. Nevertheless, Trump has led his opponents by about 30% or more in nearly all polls, Haley and DeSantis are virtually tied in an average of national polls, according to the data journalism site FiveThirtyEight.

Iowa’s voters are considered more socially conservative than those in other states, giving the more moderate Haley a possible chance to break Trump’s stride. However, if Trump (the most anti-LGBTQ+ president of all time) wins there, his nomination as the GOP presidential candidate may be all but sealed for a November rematch against President Joe Biden.

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