Saturday, April 13, 2024

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

by BIZ Magazine

(The Center Square) – Former President Donald Trump on Monday night easily won the Iowa caucuses, the first state to vote in a months-long primary process.

Based on national polling and Trump’s decisive win, it might not take very long to decide who Republican voters want in November to face President Joe Biden, the likely Democratic nominee.

With 99% of votes counted, Trump had 51%. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was second (21.2%), followed by former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (19.1%) and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy (7.7%).

It was a record-breaker for margin of victory, beating Bob Dole’s 13-point win in 1988. Sub-zero temperatures and a snowstorm contributed to the lowest turnout in more than a quarter-century.

Every major news outlet called the race less about 30 minutes or less into the caucuses, which began at 8 p.m. local time. The result mirrored support the former president is receiving in polling, including this month’s The Center Square Voters’ Voice Poll.

“Well, that was fast,” the former president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., wrote Monday night on X, the social media site 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 congratulated his opponents. Calling for unity, Trump 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 rivals.

In the aftermath, Ramaswamy suspended his campaign and endorsed Trump. Haley, the former UN ambassador, noted her momentum for the first primary in New Hampshire and said she could “safely say tonight Iowa made this Republican primary a two-person race.”

DeSantis vowed to fight on. His campaign lamented the media calling the race so early in the evening.

“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.”

Trump’s 56,260 votes were more than the combined total of DeSantis (23,420), Haley (21,085), Ramaswamy (8,449), businessman and pastor Ryan Binkley (774), former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (191), the choice of other (84), and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (35).

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

“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 on your huge #TrumpTrain Iowa Caucus win! Choo-choo!!”

Trump leads Biden by 4 percentage points in the potential general election race, according to the latest The Center Square Voters’ Voice Poll. He also leads in most key swing states, according to recent polling.

Iowa Republicans faced snow and below-zero temperatures Monday to cast their votes in the state’s caucuses. Unlike most other states, Iowa caucus-goers attended party meetings at local schools, churches and more 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.

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 Voters’ Voice 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 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. Haley has closed the gap 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. In Iowa, 40 delegates were up for grabs. 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 GOP nomination locked up by then.

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