Trump Dominates in Iowa Caucuses
Former President Donald Trump has won the Hawkeye State’s GOP caucuses in a landslide. On Monday night, Trump won 98 of 99 counties in Iowa, tying with Nikki Haley in Johnson County, each with 35.5% of the vote. Both the Associated Press and CNN called the caucuses for Trump within 30 minutes of votes being counted.
According to the AP, Trump earned a handy 51% of the vote, with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis coming in second with 21.2% of the vote, and former Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley placing third with less than 20%. Firebrand Vivek Ramaswamy placed fourth with 7.7% of the vote; the businessman dropped out of the race and immediately endorsed Trump.
“As I’ve said since the beginning, there are two ‘America First’ candidates in this race,” Ramaswamy stated in a speech. “And earlier tonight, I called Donald Trump to tell him — I congratulated him on his victory and now, going forward, he will have my full endorsement for the presidency, and I think we’re gonna do the right thing for this country.” For his part, Trump congratulated Ramaswamy, DeSantis, and Haley on their campaigns in what many conservative influencers have described as a “gracious” victory speech.
The DeSantis campaign complained that major media outlets calling the caucuses for Trump so early in the evening was a form of “election interference.” DeSantis Campaign Communications Director Andrew Romeo said, “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.” He added, “The media is in the tank for Trump, and this is the most egregious example yet.” Over the past month, however, the DeSantis campaign anticipated that Trump would be the one crying “election interference.” Matt Wolking, communications director for pro-DeSantis PAC Never Back Down, posted on social media, “Appears the Trump campaign is afraid of losing Iowa and they are laying the groundwork to claim there is fraud. What a joke.”
In the wake of Trump’s victory, there have been repeated calls from conservatives for DeSantis and Haley to follow Ramaswamy’s lead, drop out of the race, and back Trump. “Joe Biden’s team just announced a massive war chest. Every dollar spent by President Trump’s primary losers is a dollar that could be fighting Joe Biden,” said Alex Pfeiffer, communications director for the Trump super PAC MAGA Inc. “Once the DC RINOs [Republicans in Name Only] are finished crying in their cocktails over tonight’s results, it’s time for Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis, and Vivek Ramaswamy to face reality and stop wasting time and resources.”
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem (R), who endorsed and campaigned for Trump, echoed the call. In a statement, she said, “President Trump has won overwhelmingly tonight. He got more votes than all the other candidates COMBINED.” She continued, “It’s time to unite the Republican party. We need to put all our time, treasure, and talents into defeating Joe Biden and taking our country back — NOT figuring out who is in 2nd place.”
However, neither DeSantis nor Haley is showing any indication of dropping out. In his caucus night speech, the Florida Governor claimed that he was the most targeted candidate in the GOP field, saying, “They threw everything but the kitchen sink at us.” Despite trailing Trump by a staggering 30 points, DeSantis told supporters, “You helped us get a ticket punched out of the Hawkeye State. We have a lot of work to do, but I can tell you this as the next president of the United States: I am going to get the job done for this country.” And although Haley placed third in the caucuses, she declared anyway, “I can safely say tonight Iowa made this Republican primary a two-person race.”
Leftist critics have sought to make “white Christians” responsible for Trump’s landslide victory. Left-wing pundit Joy Reid, for example, insisted on MSNBC, “This is a state that is over-represented by white Christians.” Although Reid meant her comment as a criticism, Iowan Republicans do value their Christian faith. Speaking to Tony Perkins on Monday night’s edition of “Washington Watch,” Chad Connelly, founder of Faith Wins, commented, “Biblical values are premier here and especially South Carolina,” which is the next GOP caucus destination after New Hampshire.
Connelly explained that he and a coalition of pastors had invited candidates to townhall-style events at churches across the Hawkeye State. “Vivek has not been hesitant to meet with pastors. He’s embraced taking the questions,” Connelly pointed out. “But without a biblical worldview, he’s not as familiar with a lot of the terminology and the things and the basis of the thinking.” He said that DeSantis “has jumped in wholeheartedly, full feet first” and that Trump “didn’t hesitate to answer” questions on faith and morals and where they fit into his intended second administration.
Candidates now head to New Hampshire for the caucus on Tuesday of next week, then to South Carolina for the caucus at the close of February. According to polling aggregator FiveThirtyEight, Trump still leads in New Hampshire with 43% support, but Haley is trailing only 13 points behind him. DeSantis is a far-distant third in New Hampshire with less than 6% support. In South Carolina, Trump’s lead is significantly higher, standing at almost 55%. Haley, who was once South Carolina’s governor, is polling at less than 25% and DeSantis at 12%.
S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.