Trump wins Iowa handily, calls for party unity as GOP primaries continue

DeSantis finished second, Haley third with the New Hampshire primary next.

Iowa
Former President Donald Trump on Monday night easily won the caucuses in Iowa. (Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

(The Center Square) — Former President Donald Trump on Monday night easily won the caucuses in Iowa, the first state to vote in a months-long primary process where Republican voters will decide who they want to face the likely Democratic nominee, President Joe Biden, in November.

Based on national polling and Trump’s decisive win Monday, it might not take months to decide the GOP nominee.

Iowa has 40 delegates up for grabs, and 1,215 are needed to win the Republican nomination.

Initial results showed Trump winning more votes than all of his opponents combined, and he continued to hover just at or above the 50% threshold as more votes were counted. The outcome seemed so lopsided early that most major news outlets — including Fox News, CNN, CBS News and ABC News — called the race less than 30 minutes into the caucuses.

Trump’s top challengers, former South Carolina Gov. and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, were in a tight battle for second place, but DeSantis started pulling away — up by more than two percentage points with more than 90% of precincts reporting — as the night wore on.

Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy was a distant fourth. He later suspended his campaign and endorsed Trump.

“Well, that was fast,” the former president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., wrote Monday night on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Thank you Iowa. Now let’s end this nonsense and go after the insanity that is today’s Democrat party. Enough is enough! It’s time to put America first for a change.”

Trump spoke later and, in addition to thanking Iowa voters for their support, he perhaps surprisingly congratulated his opponents. Calling for unity, he said DeSantis and Haley “both did very well,” and he praised Ramaswamy for garnering about 7% of the vote after being relatively unknown less than a year ago.

“They are very smart, very smart people, very capable people,” Trump said of his primary challengers in a rare compliment paid to his political adversaries.

Shortly after the caucuses opened, the DeSantis campaign lamented the media calling the race so early in the evening.

Bob Vander Plaats, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Steve Deace speaking with supporters at a town hall hosted by Never Back Down at the Bella Love Event Venue in Clive, Iowa Jan. 11. (Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

“It is 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,” communications director Andrew Romeo said in a statement. “The media is in the tank for Trump and this is the most egregious example yet.”

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., who chairs the House Republican Conference, celebrated the “massive Trump victory” on X Monday evening.

“I have said it before, I will say it again — President Trump is our Republican Nominee for 2024 & he will defeat Joe Biden this November to #SaveAmerica!” she wrote. “Congratulations [Trump] on your huge #TrumpTrain Iowa Caucus win! Choo-choo!!”

Trump leads Biden by four percentage points in the hypothetical general election race, according to the latest The Center Square Voters’ Voice Poll.

Iowa Republicans faced snow and below-zero temperatures Monday to cast their votes in the state’s caucuses. Trump’s victory comes as no surprise, but the remaining votes will show how his competitors fared and if one of Trump’s challengers can muscle the others out of the race.

Unlike most other states, Iowa caucus-goers attended party meetings at local schools, churches and more later in the evening to choose their candidates.

“I’m asking you to go out, brave the cold and support me in the Iowa Caucus,” DeSantis said in a video on X ahead of the vote.

His opponents did the same.

“Bundle up and buckle up!” Haley said on X earlier Monday.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie withdrew from the race last week after lagging in the low single digits in polling. DeSantis and Haley also faced off in a CNN debate last week, one that Trump skipped and for which businessman Ramaswamy did not qualify.

Heading into the Iowa caucuses, Trump held a hefty lead in the polls, outdistancing his challengers by about 30 points. Nationally, Trump holds an even bigger lead over his GOP rivals.

The Center Square’s Voter Voices poll released last week asked Republican voters, “Which of the following candidates are you most likely to vote for in the 2024 Republican primary?” Of those surveyed, 61% of Republicans picked Trump. In the poll, 13% of those surveyed chose Haley while 12% picked DeSantis.

New Hampshire voters are up next with the first primary on Tuesday of next week. Trump also holds a significant lead in polling there with 43.5% support, according to RealClearPolitics’ poll average of major polls across the country, but Haley has closed the gap down to about 14 percentage points with 29.3% support.

Nevada follows with a Feb. 8 caucus, followed by primaries on Feb. 24 in South Carolina and Feb. 27 in Michigan (though not all delegates will be awarded on this date in Michigan; more than half will be awarded at the state convention March 2); and caucuses in Idaho on March 2 and North Dakota on March 4.

The successful Republican candidate must secure at least 1,215 of 2,429 total delegates to secure the nomination. Unlike the presidential general election in most states where all Electoral College votes go to the popular vote winner, the delegates in primaries and caucuses are divided between candidates by percentage.

On Super Tuesday, March 5, Republican voters from 15 states will select the candidate of their choice: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia.

Based on polling and Monday’s result, Trump could have the nomination locked up by then.

 

Casey Harper

Casey Harper is a Senior Reporter for the Washington, D.C. Bureau. He previously worked for The Daily Caller, The Hill, and Sinclair Broadcast Group. A graduate of Hillsdale College, Casey's work has also appeared in Fox News, Fox Business, and USA Today.

Dan McCaleb
 | Website