Trump secures victory in Iowa caucuses, leading GOP field

With around 90% of the votes counted on Monday night, Trump led the field with 51%, according to Decision Desk HQ. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis trailed at 21.3%, followed by Nikki Haley at 19%, and tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy at 7.7%

Trump secures victory in Iowa caucuses, leading GOP field
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
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Former President Donald Trump has emerged victorious in the Iowa Caucuses, a critical early test in the Republican primary race.

With around 90% of the votes counted on Monday night, Trump led the field with 51%, according to Decision Desk HQ. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis trailed at 21.3%, followed by Nikki Haley at 19%, and tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy at 7.7%, Decision Desk reported.

The 2022 Iowa Caucuses, noted for braving below-zero temperatures, saw a turnout of approximately 120,000 voters, significantly lower than the 2016 record of 187,000. The harsh weather conditions were expected to favor the candidate with the most robust supporter base, in this case, the frontrunner Trump. Several candidates had cautioned against over-interpreting the results due to these conditions.

The race's outcome was determined unusually early, with major news outlets including Fox News, CNN, NBC News, and the Associated Press calling it for Trump with just 1% of the vote counted. This early projection sparked criticism from journalists and commentators, who questioned the decision's timing as voting was still ongoing.

In his post-caucus speech, Trump acknowledged his GOP rivals, particularly congratulating DeSantis, Haley, and Ramaswamy on their performances. His complimentary tone extended to Ramaswamy, whom he praised for rising from a low starting point in the polls.

“I want to congratulate Ron and Nikki for a good time together. … I think they both actually did very well. I really do,” Trump said. “I also want to congratulate Vivek because he did a hell of a job,” Trump added. “He came from zero … and he got probably 8%.”

Tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy dropped out of the primary race after the results came in, stating that he could see no path forward in the race. He endorsed Trump in a show of unity with the former president.

In his speech, Ramaswamy declared himself and former President Donald Trump as the only true "America First" candidates. This assertion comes in the wake of Trump's critical remarks on social media, where he questioned Ramaswamy's allegiance to the Make America Great Again (MAGA) movement.

Trump's social media posts highlighted a shift in Ramaswamy's stance, noting his initial praise for Trump as "the best President in generations." The former president then accused Ramaswamy of using deceptive campaign tactics, suggesting that a vote for Ramaswamy equates to supporting the opposition. Trump emphasized, “Unfortunately, now all he does is disguise his support in the form of deceitful campaign tricks. Very sly, but a vote for Vivek is a vote for the ‘other side’ — don’t get duped by this.”

“Vote for ‘TRUMP,’ don’t waste your vote! Vivek is not MAGA,” Trump continued. “The Biden Indictments against his Political Opponent will never be allowed in this Country, they are already beginning to fall! MAGA!!!”

The early call of the race by media outlets raised eyebrows among political observers. David Weigel, a Semafor political reporter, and Michael Scherer of the Washington Post, pointed out the potential impact of the early announcement on voters still at caucus sites.

“AP has a policy not to call ‘the winner of a race before all the polls in a jurisdiction are scheduled to close.’ Tonight AP/CNN/Etc. called the race after the caucus doors closed, but BEFORE all votes were cast. People could see on their phones that Trump won before voting,” wrote Scherer on X.

Leading up to the caucuses, Trump consistently dominated early polling, maintaining a substantial lead over his GOP competitors. Haley, seen as an underdog initially, gained momentum in Iowa, appealing to a broader spectrum of voters, including independents and some Democrats. Her centrist policy positions have frequently put her at odds with other contenders.

Ramaswamy, despite polling in the single digits, hoped for a strong showing in Iowa. His campaign efforts included completing the "Full Grassley" tour twice, a nod to the extensive local campaigning strategy of Iowa GOP Senator Chuck Grassley.

DeSantis focused heavily on Iowa, courting the state's large Evangelical base and securing pivotal endorsements from prominent figures like Bob Vander Plaats and Governor Kim Reynolds. The financial aspect of the campaign saw significant spending on advertisements, with pro-Haley and pro-DeSantis groups outspending pro-Trump efforts.

Iowa offered forty delegates, to be proportionally allocated based on caucus performance. A Republican candidate needs at least 1,215 delegates out of an estimated 2,429 to secure the GOP nomination. However, history shows that winning Iowa does not always guarantee success in the broader GOP primary, as evidenced by past caucus winners like Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, and Mike Huckabee, who did not clinch the Republican nomination in their respective election cycles.

The candidates are now preparing for the next major contest in the Republican primary race, the New Hampshire primary. This upcoming event will provide another critical opportunity for the GOP hopefuls to gain momentum in their bid for the party's nomination.

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