DemDaily: Trump Dominates First in the Nation Caucus. Iowa

January 16, 2023

Despite subzero temperatures, Iowa Republicans delivered a record-setting 30-point win to former President Donald Trump last night in the first test of the 2024 presidential nominating contest.

While Trump's 51% victory was a foregone conclusion, all eyes were on the margin between him and second place -- where Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, with 21.2%, narrowly beat out former UN Ambassador and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who garnered 19.1%.

The runner-up showing, however slim, was essential for DeSantis, who invested heavily in Iowa -- visiting all 99 counties and spending $35 million of the $123.4 million total poured by Republican candidates and affiliated PACs into the state's caucuses.

Once a swing state and bellwether for middle America, Iowa has veered to the right in the last two presidentials -- awarding Trump a 51.2% win in 2016 and a 53.1% victory in 2020.

According to an Edison Research entrance poll of 2024 GOP caucus-goers, 55% identified as white evangelical christians, 52% identified as "very conservative", and 46% considered themselves part of the MAGA movement. 61% of Iowa caucus-goers favored a nationwide federal abortion ban, 66% believed Joe Biden was not legitimately elected president in 2020, and 65% would consider Trump fit for office even if he were convicted of a crime.

Presidential primary elections are run by state and local governments, while caucuses are private, in-person events that are run directly by the political parties themselves. All states conduct primaries with the exception of Iowa, Wyoming, Nevada, North Dakota and three territories that hold some form of caucus.

Lack of electoral diversity drove the Democratic National Committee's (DNC) new shuffled early primary schedule, which bumped Iowa, whose population is 83.7% white, to March 5 -- upending its coveted "first in the nation" caucus status, required by state law and held for five decades.

Instead, to maintain their historic status, Iowa Democrats held in-person caucuses last night to conduct party business, while the actual vote is being conducted via mail-in presidential preference cards, with results to be released Super Tuesday, March 5.

The impetus is now on Haley to win the January 23 New Hampshire primary, where she is targeting moderate Republicans, independents and undeclared voters -- who make up 39% of the overall electorate and are expected to play an outsized role in deciding the state's GOP nominee (New Hampshire allows independent voters to participate in either party’s primary and there is no real contest on the Democratic side).

According to AdImpact, Haley and her allied political action committee have spent over $26 million on advertisements in New Hampshire, while Trump and his allied PAC have invested over $12 million on ads in The Granite State.

Tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who finished fourth with 8%, dropped out of the race last night and endorsed Trump. Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, who finished a distant fifth, also suspended his campaign, saying, "My message of being a principled Republican with experience and telling the truth about the current front runner did not sell in Iowa.”

Trump, who is charged with 91 felonies in four jurisdictions, continues to balance his campaign and criminal court appearances -- now incorporated into his political strategy -- claiming to be a victim of a conspiracy "set up by crooked Joe Biden."

The candidates were scheduled to appear at a Sixth Republican Presidential Primary Debate in Manchester, New Hampshire on Thursday, but Haley, who claimed victory with her close finish to DeSantis, said, "This Republican primary is a two-person race" and she will only debate Trump or President Joe Biden moving forward.

DemList will keep you informed.

DemDaily: Haley and DeSantis: The Race for Second Place 1/12/23
DemDaily: Christie Concedes Presidential Primary 1/11/23
DemDaily: Tonight's Showdown! The Fifth Republican Debate 1/10/23
DemDaily: The 2024 Presidential Primary Calendar! 1/4/23
DemDaily: The GOP Primary: A Snapshot 12/12/23
DemDaily: Countdown to Iowa. The Fourth Debate 12/8/23
DemDaily: The Dwindling GOP Field 12/5/23
DemDaily: New Hampshire First? 11/17/23

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Kimberly Scott

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Resources: AP, CNN, WeAreIowa,com,.,WFAA, Washington Post, Edison, Pew, AdImpact

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