The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Trump trounces challengers with over 30 point lead in Iowa caucuses

Trump takes a historic lead in the Iowa caucuses after dominating pre-caucus polls.
Grace Smith
Former President Donald Trump speaks during his caucus night watch party at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines on Monday, Jan. 15, 2024. Republican voters assembled statewide to participate in the caucuses despite the cold and extreme winter weather across the state. Trump’s early victory and dominant position before the start of caucus night proved to be true as 51 percent of Republicans voted for Trump’s appearance in the 2024 presidential election as of 10:20 p.m. At the event, Trump spoke to over 300 supporters at his watch party about his goals and putting America first.

DES MOINES — Former President Donald Trump thrashed his challengers Monday night, winning the Iowa Republican caucuses with over half of the vote, according to unofficial results.  

“I want to thank the great people of Iowa, thank you, we love you all,” Trump said. “I really think this is time now for everybody — our country — to come together, whether you’re Republican or Democrat or liberal or conservative.” 

Trump maintained a wide margin over the other candidates, who have all struggled to chip away at his Iowa voter base. Trump beat Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis by almost 30 percent, maintaining a clear, decisive lead going into the New Hampshire primary on Jan. 23. 

With his Iowa delegates secured, Trump continues to lead with 39 percent of the vote among likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters in a January CNN/University of New Hampshire poll. Trump leads Haley by only seven points with Haley holding 32 of the vote in the poll. DeSantis comes in behind Chris Christie — who has since dropped out of the race — and comes in with 5 percent of the vote in the poll. 

Unofficial results as of 11:30 p.m. Monday read as follows with about 93 percent of the state reporting results: 

  • Trump, 51 percent
  • DeSantis, 21 percent
  • Haley, 19 percent 
  • Vivek Ramaswamy, 7.6 percent
  • Ryan Binkley, 0.7 percent 
  • Asa Hutchinson 0.2 percent 

Vivek Ramaswamy swiftly announced the suspension of his campaign Monday night after results showed that his predicted wave of support did not come to fruition. 

Trump took second place in the 2016 Iowa Republican caucuses behind U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. He ultimately surpassed Cruz and earned the GOP’s nomination in 2016, taking Iowa in both the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections. 

Although Trump campaigned less than his rivals, according to a Des Moines Register caucus event tracker, he visited Iowa several times before the Iowa caucuses. 

Trump wagered the support of his emphatic base to win the Iowa caucuses, with his campaign organizing a small army of “caucus captains,” also known as precinct captains, to campaign for Trump on caucus night — and to bring ten of their friends. 

Precinct captains are an essential part of the Iowa caucuses, each giving a speech in support of their selected candidate before caucusgoers cast their votes. 

With bitter cold engrossing the state on Monday, vast campaign organization was key to retaining supporters. 

Despite his 91 felony charges across four criminal indictments, Trump led with a wide margin in all pre-caucus Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom Iowa polls from August until the most recent edition, released just two days before the Iowa caucuses.

In closing his remarks on Monday Trump invoked his infamous slogan: “Make America Great Again” and beseeched his voters to show up, in force, in November. 

“The people in our country are great, they’re all great — we love Iowa — but they’re all great,” Trump said. “They only want to see one thing: they want to see our country come back, they want us to be great again — it’s very simple.”

An early race call angers DeSantis campaign

The caucus victory for Trump was declared early, with the Associated Press calling the race for Trump at 7:32 p.m., 32 minutes after caucuses were called to order and with less than 1 percent of precincts reporting. 

This prompted backlash from DeSantis surrogates, saying the AP violated their editorial policy by calling the race well before the official close of the polls in Iowa. 

“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,” Andrew Romeo, DeSantis’s communication director said in a news release on Monday. 

Other national outlets followed suit after the AP called the race at 7:32, and NBC News called the race at 7:33 p.m. 

“That is absurd,” James Uthmeier, a DeSantis campaign manager, told NBC News on Monday night. “That challenges the very tenets of our Republican democracy. And that should not happen. We still expect a good night. I know, you know, it’s going to take a while for votes to come in. But you can’t taint the process like that, having a victory declared before people have even voted before arguments have been heard. That’s not right.” 

Iowa GOP Chair Jeff Kaufmann said the caucuses allow for voters to change their minds during the caucus, allowing surrogates, or sometimes the candidates themselves, to address caucusgoers and persuade them to pick their candidate. 

“Media outlets calling the results of the 2024 First-in-the-Nation Caucus less than half an hour after precinct caucuses had been called to order — before the overwhelming majority of Iowans had even cast their ballot — was highly disappointing and concerning,” Kaufmann said to the Des Moines Register in a statement. 

What voters had to say 

Mary Ernzen, 60, of Marion, cast her ballot in support of Trump on Monday because she said, “he’s the only one who can prevent World War III.” 

She also said she liked her life under Trump. She said her groceries cost less and her gas costs more. Now, she said she can only purchase one-eighth of the food for the same price, a large burden for someone, like her, who lives alone. 

Ted Stacey, 77, of Cedar Rapids said he caucused for Trump because he wants to change the direction the country is headed. 

“We try to steer it in the right direction,” he said. “Right now, I don’t think the country is going in the right direction at all.”

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About the Contributors
Liam Halawith, Politics Editor
Liam Halawith is a third-year student at the University of Iowa studying Journalism and Mass Communication and minoring in Public Policy. Before his role as Politics Editor Liam was a politics reporter for the DI. Outside of the DI Liam has interned at the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Southeast Iowa Union. This is his second year working for the DI.
Grace Smith, Senior photojournalist and filmmaker
Grace Smith is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic Arts. In her four years at The Daily Iowan, she has held the roles of photo editor, managing summer editor, and visual storyteller. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Grace has held an internship at The Denver Post and pursued freelance assignments for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Des Moines Register.