DES MOINES, Iowa — Donald Trump won the election in IowaNBC News projects that it solidifies his status as a strong contender for the Republican presidential nomination.
Trump, aiming to become the first former president since Grover Cleveland in the 1890s to return to office for a second consecutive term, went on to a record-breaking showing in his first nomination contest on Monday night. 2024.
Trump’s final margin of victory could surpass the 13 points won by Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas in the 1996 Republican caucus. And a commanding performance, especially if he wins a majority of the vote, would be the strongest sign yet that there is no decisive demand for an alternative as the race moves to next week’s primary in New Hampshire.
The battle for second place between former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and their ability to prevent Trump from winning the majority, raises more doubts.
“I need every one of you to get out — all of you, just get out and vote,” Trump said at a rally in Indianola on Sunday. “You should bring your friend. … Take it all out because we have to get ready for November. We have to implement it as soon as possible.”
In last week’s finale NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa poll, 48% of likely caucus participants chose Trump as their first choice, 20% chose Haley, and 16% chose DeSantis. Biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson and Texas pastor Ryan Binkley were all in the single digits.
Turnout was a key unknown in the hours leading up to the caucus. Last week’s heavy snow and bone-chilling sub-zero temperatures over the weekend created an icy mess on Iowa roads, and Monday’s high was forecast to be -2 degrees F.
The brutal weather may have kept the group members indoors and reassessed the best-case scenarios for the top three contenders. NBC News estimates that 130,000 Republicans will participate in the caucuses — significantly fewer than the roughly 187,000 who turned out in the competitive GOP race for president in 2016, according to exit poll interviews and early voting results.
Earlier Monday, Trump maintained his high expectations.
“I don’t know the vote total because, you know, it’s a little cold out there, but not really, and remember, everybody’s in,” Trump said during an interview with Jeff Stein on News/Talk 1540. , an eastern Iowa radio station. “So you’re not standing on the sidelines. Therefore, I think that it will be a record, maybe very close to a record.”
A runner-up finish by Haley or DeSantis might not completely change the race, but both look to leave the caucuses with even the slightest of a lead as the race heads into next week’s New Hampshire primary. Haley has been polling closer to Trump there, so her edge over DeSantis in Iowa could allow her to make the case that she is now the best hope for Republicans looking to prevent Trump from winning the nomination.
Such a scenario would represent a potential bottom scenario for DeSantis, who entered the White House last year with the highest ceiling and a campaign that combined a super PAC flush with more than $150 million in cash. But DeSantis failed to live up to those lofty expectations, and he and his allies spent weeks at caucuses trying to lower them.
Where DeSantis once He confidently predicted that he would win in Iowa, he recently insisted that he’s in it for the “long haul” and will continue his campaign even if it doesn’t do well here. But a third-place finish will almost certainly put pressure on DeSantis to finish his campaign.
“Every day would be Christmas,” DeSantis told reporters in Dubuque on Sunday when asked about the possibility of a third-place finish.
Trump’s comfortable victory reflects his loyalty among GOP voters, even though he is facing four felony charges. fewer Iowa events more than its competitors. Although Trump canceled three of four rallies planned for the weekend in Iowa, blaming the brutal winter weather, he made more quick, unannounced stops, grabbing food at Casey’s, known for its pizza, and delivering pies to firefighters in Waukee.
Along with occasional visits and constant media presence, Trump has bolstered his campaign with a more sophisticated activism operation than the slapstick version he deployed to finish second here in 2016.
Using a wealth of data, his campaign is focusing on finding and getting out the vote Trump supporters who have not turned out in the past, according to a senior campaign official. The campaign’s approach to identifying and selecting voters was strikingly similar to that of other contemporary campaigns, including some of its rivals and their foreign allies — something that was not recognized in Trump’s previous bids for the White House. And Trump himself has used his speeches and teleconferences with supporters to share information on how to build a caucus and where to get more information.
Precinct captains — more than one for each of the state’s more than 1,600 precincts — were each charged with inducting 10 new voters into the group, the official said. As Trump campaigned in Iowa on Sunday, he wore a gold-lettered “Trump Caucus Captain” hat, a nod to his phalanx of office-bearers on the ground.
In Survey on Saturday, 82% of those who support Trump say they agree, and 49% call themselves extremely enthusiastic about him in the caucuses. By contrast, more than a third of both DeSantis and Haley supporters said they would agree to attend Monday’s convention for someone else, and just 9% of Haley said they were extremely enthusiastic about her.
At a rally on Sunday, Trump emphasized his loyalty. He noted how Haley challenged him after serving as UN ambassador. He mocked DeSantis for his 2018 run for governor. He chastised Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds for supporting DeSantis. And he drew attention to his ability to keep defeated opponents on their heels, inviting North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum to join him on stage and offer his endorsement before his campaign for the GOP nomination had even begun.
“There’s something,” Trump thought at one point, “about infidelity in politics.”
Trump’s vice-prophecy in the party faced a surprisingly bold challenge from Ramaswamy, who initially cast himself as a new generation of Trump — one less threatening and more respectful of the former president. Trump advisers praised Ramaswamy’s scathing attacks on Haley in the first debate. But in recent weeks, Ramaswamy’s kindness and loyalty have given way to a tense new area of Trump’s legal troubles. had given him damaged items.
“Very sneaky,” Trump wrote on Truth Social, “but a vote for Vivek is a vote for ‘the other side’ – don’t be fooled.” Vote for TRUMP, don’t waste your vote! Vivek is not MAGA.”
But Trump largely avoided harsh criticism from his opponents. The accusations against him, including those stemming from his conduct that led to a riot by his supporters at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, only emboldened him. With the exception of Hutchinson, who dropped out last week, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, most of his rivals have rushed to defend Trump, dismissing the investigation as political.
Trump’s poll numbers began to rise at a time when his legal troubles were mounting and DeSantis was trying to establish himself as a strong alternative. But until recently, DeSantis has resisted campaigning on Trump’s issues. In the first debate last summer, including DeSantis, many other Republican candidates raised their hands when asked if they would support Trump as their party’s nominee even if he had a felony conviction.
Christie, a one-time Trump ally and detractor of Trump, polled relatively well in New Hampshire, but Haley trailed. Former Vice President Mike Pence, who refused to block the confirmation of President Joe Biden’s victory in 2020, angered Trump and his supporters who stormed the Capitol and never gained traction. left in October.
DeSantis and Haley both hit Trump harder when they reached Iowa. But they did not aggressively campaign against him, and their attacks often focused on more prosaic issues, such as his refusal to defend his record and answer questions on the debate stage.
Trump often fell back on his survey numbers when asked why he did not argue. At times, he made it clear that he knew his legal status strengthened his status in the party.
“Every time they impeach, we go up in the polls,” Trump told his audience last August. Alabama GOP dinner. “We need one more indictment to close this election. Once again the indictment and this election was closed. No one has such a chance.”