Conclusions from the Iowa Republican caucuses

Donald Trump showed Monday night that he is still his Republican Party.

The former US president won the Iowa Republican caucuses by a record margin, boosting his bid to win his party’s third consecutive presidential nomination. He did so despite skipping the GOP primary debates and avoiding the routine retail politicking that Hawkeye State voters typically demand.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis edged out former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley by a distant second, though the nomination race now shifts to New Hampshire, where polls show Haley in a much stronger position. strong in next week’s primaries.

The results in Iowa demonstrated how devoted Republicans remain to Trump amid his highly unusual campaign, one waged between court appearances as he fights four indictments, including charges tied to his efforts to subvert the 2020 presidential election.

Here are six takeaways from the Iowa GOP caucuses:

“Very intelligent and very capable people”

While celebrating his historic victory Monday night in Des Moines, Trump dropped his usual nicknames and insults for his Republican rivals. He congratulated DeSantis, Haley and biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy on their performances, describing all three as “very smart people, very capable people.”

But his message to his main opponents couldn’t have been clearer: It’s time to get out and get on board.

“It’s very important and I want it to be a very important part of our message: Let’s come together. “This too will happen soon,” Trump said.

The Republican field has already narrowed further: Ramaswamy, who finished fourth Monday night, ended his campaign and immediately endorsed the former president.

It’s a three-person race…

…But Trump is miles ahead of the rest.

With the former president surpassing 50% of the vote in Iowa, and neither DeSantis nor Haley breaking away to a definitive second-place finish, Republicans were no closer to a one-on-one primary race between Trump and someone who ducked the election. party in 2016 and has not come to fruition this year either.

Speaking to supporters after Trump took his victory lap, Haley and DeSantis vowed to continue their campaigns.

  • Read more: Trump achieves a resounding victory in the Iowa caucuses

“We got our ticket from Iowa,” the Florida governor said. He is scheduled to visit South Carolina, Haley’s home state, on Tuesday before continuing on to New Hampshire, where she will participate in a CNN town hall that evening.

Meanwhile, Haley is trailing Trump in single digits in New Hampshire, polls show. She hopes to capitalize on a more moderate primary electorate there and use it as a launching pad to effectively clear the field and position herself as the party’s only alternative to Trump.

“I can safely say that tonight Iowa made this Republican primary a two-person race,” he told supporters.

Trump remains difficult to beat

Entrance polls showed the breadth of support for Trump in key GOP constituencies.

Fifty-three percent of white evangelical Christians backed Trump, compared to 27% for DeSantis and 13% for Haley, numbers that underscore why Trump is the overwhelming favorite in South Carolina, where evangelicals make up a large portion. of the party’s primary electorate, even though it is Haley’s home state.

College graduates are split fairly evenly between Trump, Haley and DeSantis. But Trump dominated those without a college degree, with 67% support.

One constituency that Haley dominated was those who identified as moderates or liberals. He won the support of 63% of that group, a figure that would bode well for a general election showdown with President Joe Biden. But it also reflects how far Haley has to go to make inroads with the Republican primary electorate. The entry poll found that Haley fared well among those who believe Biden won the 2020 election fairly and among those who say the quality that mattered most to them was having the right temperament.

Meanwhile, DeSantis showed more strength among core Republican voters. Of those whose vote was based on which candidate shares his values, Trump led with 43%, but DeSantis’ 31% was well ahead of Haley’s 13%. Still, with few signs of weakness from Trump, it’s unclear where DeSantis has opportunities to make progress.

Haley wants to stop the ‘Trump-Biden nightmare’

As the race moves into more favorable territory for Haley, she used her Monday night speech in Iowa to argue that she is the antidote to a rematch between Biden and Trump.

Haley argued that most Americans disapprove of both the current and former president and insisted that her campaign is “the last best hope to stop the Trump-Biden nightmare.”

While he congratulated Trump on his victory, he argued that the former president and Biden have “more in common than you think.”

“Both Trump and Biden lack a vision for the future of our country because they are both consumed by the past, by investigations, by revenge, by grievances. America deserves better,” he said.

DeSantis promises to continue campaign

After being declared the runner-up in the caucuses, DeSantis told supporters that he had survived having “everything but the kitchen sink” thrown at him in Iowa, as he vowed to continue his campaign.

However, he is entering what could be a difficult stretch, as polls show him far behind Trump and Haley in New Hampshire. Trump is expected to dominate the Nevada Republican caucuses. Donors could also dry up.

DeSantis’ hopes could depend largely on external factors. Trump’s upcoming trials could become a flashpoint that alters the trajectory of the race. Haley, who has faced increased scrutiny in recent months, could stumble in New Hampshire.

DeSantis’ decision to visit South Carolina first on Tuesday before traveling to New Hampshire shows the importance of the state. It’s where Haley served as governor, but primary voters there might align more closely with DeSantis’ politics. Upsetting Haley on her home turf in the Feb. 24 primary could propel DeSantis into Super Tuesday on March 5 with momentum.

Another blow to the Iowa caucuses

DeSantis took a gamble on Iowa. He completed the “full Grasley”: visiting all 99 counties, a feat popularized by the state’s longtime Republican senator, Chuck Grassley, as an annual exercise. DeSantis also had the support of popular governor Kim Reynolds.

In the end, all he managed was a distant second place, behind a former president who barely campaigned in Iowa and a late-rising rival who has long been much more focused on New Hampshire.

The results demonstrated the continued nationalization of the presidential nomination contests.

Monday night made clear the waning influence of local officials (more than half of the state’s Republican lawmakers backed DeSantis), activists (conservative influencer Bob Vander Plaats, who had correctly bet on the last three winners of the Iowa Republican caucuses, failed with DeSantis this year) and shoe leather work (Ramaswamy was the candidate who held the most events in Iowa, according to the Des Moines Register).

The best Iowa Republicans could say was that their caucuses were nowhere near the vote-counting disaster that Democrats faced in 2020, when the party couldn’t immediately determine whether Pete Buttigieg or Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders had won, a disaster that led the Democratic National Committee to demote Iowa in its nominating process.

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