July 20, 2024

Trump Wins Big In Iowa As Republican Contest Kicks Off 2024 Presidential Race

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The heated battle for second place took much longer, with Ron DeSantis edging out Nikki Haley in an upset.

FILE PHOTO: Former President Donald Trump speaks at his caucus night event at the Iowa Events Center on January 15, 2024 in Des Moines, Iowa. Iowans voted today in the state’s caucuses for the first contest in the 2024 Republican presidential nominating process. Trump has been projected winner of the Iowa caucus. PICTURE: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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IOWA: Former president a step closer to Joe Biden rematch, as Ron DeSantis edges out Nikki Haley for distant second place finish.

Donald Trump has won an overwhelming victory in the US’s first election contest of 2024, easily fending off a winnowed field of Republicans in the Iowa caucuses.

The Associated Press called the race for Trump rapidly, while caucusgoers in much of the state were still casting ballots, a sign of the wide lead the former president had in the race.

“We were a great nation three years ago and now we’re a nation in decline,” he said, speaking to fans after the results confirmed his victory. He then made a litany of promises of what he would do in a second term, including rampant drilling and giving police officers full immunity.

The heated battle for second place took much longer, with Ron DeSantis edging out Nikki Haley in an upset.

With an estimated 99% of the vote counted, Trump was on 51%, DeSantis 21.2%, and Haley 19.1%. The former president smashed the previous record margin of victory in a competitive Republican presidential race in the state, which stood at 12 percentage points.

The Florida governor DeSantis campaigned in traditional Iowa fashion, visiting all 99 counties, in the hopes that voters there would reward him as they have candidates in the past. Meanwhile Haley, the former South Carolina governor, had been seen as Republicans’ most moderate choice, with a better chance to beat Joe Biden in the general election than the candidates to her right.

DeSantis could see more momentum in his campaign after the surprisingly strong showing, albeit a distant trail to Trump’s commanding lead. “They threw everything but the kitchen sink at us,” he said, speaking to supporters in Des Moines at the end of the night. “

After all the time and funds his campaign poured into Iowa, his performance was still a disappointment. But his candidacy has survived to fight another day. “We’ve got our ticket punched out of Iowa,” DeSantis said.

Three other candidates fell well below DeSantis and Haley, landing in the single-digit percentages. Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy led the lesser-known pack, before he dropped out of the race on Monday night and endorsed Trump, followed by Asa Hutchinson, the former Arkansas governor, and the pastor Ryan Binkley.

An early estimate of 100,000 Republicans voted in the caucuses on Monday, according to Iowa Republican party chairman Jeff Kaufmann – significantly lower than the turnout in 2016.

Voters on Monday had gathered in schools, libraries, community centers and even a grain elevator to debate among neighbors, but severe winter weather meant they faced sub-zero temperatures, bitter winds and snow drifts. Some may have been unable to access their precinct with road closures and other obstacles.

Among the voters who stuck by Trump, many dismissed the former president’s legal woes and concerns over democracy itself. Retired farmer Ron Osborn’s reason for supporting Trump, who won the most votes in Malcolm, Iowa, was simple.

“I think he’s the only one who can beat the cheating Democrats,” the 73-year-old said.

Those who chose other candidates said they were sick of Trump’s chaos and wanted to move forward without the noise of his brand of politics. Kent Christen, a Cedar Rapids voter who supported DeSantis, said of Trump: “Chaos follows him. He’s like an instrument of chaos. I’m kind of tired of all that. That’s the biggest reason I’m tired of him.”

The contest in Iowa kicks off the 2024 election cycle, but the primary season is predicted to yield an eventual rematch between Trump and Biden.

In the road to the first Republican election outing, the field narrowed, with Trump never falling from a commanding lead. His ardent followers showed up to rallies and worked on the ground, dismissing the ongoing legal issues and increasingly harsh rhetoric the former president used on the campaign trail, where he vowed a second term focused on retribution against his political foes. Already, threats of political violence loom over the election, as officials and judges face increasing harassment.

The focus now shifts to New Hampshire, the next primary contest on Republicans’ political calendar. Democrats are also skipping the Granite state, choosing South Carolina as the first official contest on the left, though candidates vying against the incumbent president are still on the ballot there.

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