In the initial 2024 Republican presidential contest in Iowa, Donald Trump clinched a decisive victory, solidifying his influence within the party despite facing numerous criminal charges as he vies for a rematch against President Joe Biden.
Trump’s triumph, with over half of the votes, propels him toward what promises to be a contentious election campaign against Democrat Biden in November.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis trailed behind Trump in second place, followed by former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who failed to emerge as the primary challenger.
Trump, who is the only current or former U.S. president to face criminal charges, secured an unparalleled victory margin in an Iowa Republican contest, reinforcing his argument that his nomination is practically assured given his substantial lead in national polls.
With 99% of the expected vote counted, Trump garnered 51%, DeSantis 21%, and Haley 19%, far surpassing the previous record set by Bob Dole in 1988 with a victory margin of 12.8 percentage points.
Trump expressed his gratitude on his social media platform, Truth Social, writing, “THANK YOU IOWA, I LOVE YOU ALL!!!”
He aims to expedite the typically months-long Republican selection process with convincing early primary wins to force out his rivals.
Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy ended his long-shot presidential bid, winning just under 8% of the vote, and endorsed Trump.
The candidates now shift their focus to New Hampshire, where Trump holds a smaller lead over Haley, while DeSantis lags behind among the state’s more moderate Republicans.
Despite Trump’s legal challenges, including the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol and 91 criminal charges related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, he retains strong popularity among Republican voters.
Nearly two-thirds of Iowa caucus-goers embraced his false claims about voter fraud in the 2020 election, while over 60% believed he could still serve as president even if convicted of a crime.
Trump’s support transcended demographic and ideological boundaries, winning among men and women, very conservative, somewhat conservative, and independent voters, as well as those with varying levels of education.
He also secured a majority among Republicans who prioritized immigration or the economy as their main concerns.
Although Trump seeks to present his campaign as inevitable, both DeSantis and Haley remain determined, ensuring a fractured opposition as the campaign progresses.
Iowa marked the official start of the 2024 presidential campaign, with voters braving harsh temperatures to participate in the state’s unique caucus system, emphasizing their concerns, such as border security.
Iowa’s role in presidential campaigns remains significant due to its early position on the campaign calendar, even though recent history has shown that winning the Iowa Republican caucuses doesn’t guarantee the nomination.