Trump emerges victorious with a substantial lead in Iowa

The second position is disputed by Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley.

The first 2024 Republican presidential contest in Iowa ended with a decisive victory for Donald Trump, who reaffirmed his control over the party as he pursues a third consecutive nomination and a chance to face off against Democratic President Joe Biden again.

Edison Research projected that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley were locked in a tight race for second place, as they tried to position themselves as the main alternative to Trump, who was president from 2017-2021.

Trump was on track to win by a historic margin for an Iowa Republican contest, bolstering his argument that his nomination is inevitable, given his overwhelming lead in national polls despite being indicted on four criminal charges.

“THANK YOU IOWA, I LOVE YOU ALL!!!” Trump posted on his social media platform, Truth Social.

According to Edison, with more than 60% of the expected vote counted, Trump had 50.6%, while DeSantis had 21.4% and Haley had 19.4%. The previous record for the largest margin of victory for an Iowa Republican caucus was 12.8 percentage points for Bob Dole in 1988.

Trump’s margin was unassailable. To overcome it and win, Haley or DeSantis would have to secure the vast majority of the remaining vote, a highly improbable scenario.

It was still too early to determine whether Trump would surpass 50%, a symbolic threshold that would further undermine his rivals’ claim that his nomination can be stopped.

In a statement, Alex Pfeiffer, a spokesperson for the main super political action committee backing Trump, said, “The people of Iowa sent a clear message tonight: Donald Trump will be the next Republican nominee for President. It’s now time to make him the next President of the United States.”

Both DeSantis and Haley were hoping for a strong second-place finish to persuade donors and supporters that their challenges to Trump were still feasible.

DeSantis had staked his campaign on Iowa, visiting all of its 99 counties, and a third-place finish could intensify pressure for him to drop out.

Polls show him trailing far behind Trump and Haley in the more moderate Northeastern state of New Hampshire, where Republicans will select their nominee eight days from now.

Iowans endured life-threatening cold to assemble at more than 1,600 schools, community centers and other locations for the state’s first-in-the-nation caucus, as the 2024 presidential campaign officially began after months of debates, rallies and advertisements.

Caucus-goers seemed to be largely supportive of Trump, according to an Edison Research entrance poll.

Only one-third of caucus-goers said Trump would be unfit for president if convicted of a crime. Nearly two-thirds said they did not believe Biden legitimately won the 2020 election, echoing Trump’s unfounded claims of voter fraud.

“Trump is very narcissistic, he’s very cocky, but he’s going to get stuff done,” said Rita Stone, 53, a Trump supporter, who attended a caucus at a West Des Moines high school. Like many other voters, Stone said her top concern was the U.S. southern border with Mexico, applauding Trump’s effort to build a wall when he was president.

Trump has sought to create a sense of inevitability around his campaign, skipping all five of the Republican debates so far and largely avoiding the county-by-county campaigning that most candidates do before the Iowa vote.

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