Iowa caucuses: AP calls Iowa for Trump as DeSantis places 2nd

Published January 15, 2024 at 11:46 PM EST
Former President Donald Trump speaks at his caucus night event at the Iowa Events Center on January 15, 2024 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Chip Somodevilla
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Getty Images
Former President Donald Trump speaks at his caucus night event at the Iowa Events Center on January 15, 2024 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Caucuses started at 7 p.m. local time — officially kicking off the 2024 primary season — and the race call for Trump came exceptionally quick — just about 30 minutes after they started.

  • AP call speed: Read from AP why it declared Trump the winner of the Iowa GOP caucuses so early
  • Second place: He bested DeSantis by about 30,000 votes. Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley came in third.
  • Democrats: They caucused tonight to conduct party business — but not to cast votes. They will do that by mail instead, a change prompted by the chaos of their 2020 caucus.
  • Coverage: NPR Network journalists in Iowa and Washington, D.C., will be covering the caucuses as they unfold, both online and on air. Here's how to follow along in the hours and days ahead.

    Live coverage of the Iowa Caucuses is a collaboration between NPR and Iowa Public Radio.

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That's a wrap!

Posted January 16, 2024 at 12:21 AM EST

Our live blogging team will be back Tuesday morning with more from Iowa and a look ahead as the race shifts to New Hampshire.

Trump won 98 of Iowa’s 99 counties. Nikki Haley won 1

Posted January 16, 2024 at 12:15 AM EST
Left: Former President Donald Trump speaks at his caucus night event at the Iowa Events Center on January 15, 2024 in Des Moines, Iowa. Right: Republican presidential candidate former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks at her caucus night event on January 15, 2024 in West Des Moines, Iowa.
Joe Raedle and Chip Somodevilla
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Getty Images
Left: Former President Donald Trump speaks at his caucus night event at the Iowa Events Center on January 15, 2024 in Des Moines, Iowa. Right:

Trump won 98 of Iowa’s 99 counties. Nikki Haley won Johnson County in the eastern part of the state — home to Iowa City and the University of Iowa — by ONE VOTE.

It’s indicative of the problems Haley faced in this campaign. Johnson County has the highest percentage of college degrees in the state and overall Monday she won:

  • Moderates, those who believed if Trump was convicted, he would not be fit to serve as president,
  • Among those who said foreign policy was their top issue,
  • Those who said they were not part of the MAGA movement,
  • Those who thought Biden won legitimately in 2020
  • And, yes, those with advanced degrees.

The problem for Haley: Those are hardly the majority of the Republican Party.

Nikki Haley: 'I am the last best hope' to prevent a Trump-Biden rematch

Posted January 16, 2024 at 12:09 AM EST
Republican presidential candidate former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley takes the stage to speak at a caucus night party at the Marriott Hotel in West Des Moines, Iowa, Monday, Jan. 15, 2024.
Carolyn Kaster
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AP
Republican presidential candidate former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley takes the stage to speak at a caucus night party at the Marriott Hotel in West Des Moines, Iowa, Monday, Jan. 15, 2024.

Nikki Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and former governor of South Carolina, thanked her supporters after coming in third in the Iowa Republican caucuses on Monday.

“I came to Iowa early and often,” she said. “And I will be forever grateful for the time that we’ve had.”

Haley also congratulated Trump on his blowout victory in this year’s first presidential nominating contest.

Even though Haley didn’t win the Iowa caucuses, she credited the state for her presidential campaign’s ascent in the past several months. She said she started with 2% support in the polls in a crowded field of GOP candidates, but has since become a serious contender for the nomination.

“If you look at how we are doing in New Hampshire and South Carolina and beyond,” Haley said, “I can safely say that Iowa made this Republican primary a two-person race.”

During a speech to her supporters at an event in Iowa on Monday, Haley positioned herself as an alternative to both Trump and Biden -- who are both unpopular among a majority of voters. She said voters are particularly not interested in another Trump and Biden matchup.

“Our campaign is the last best hope of stopping the Trump-Biden nightmare,” she said.

New Hampshire will hold its presidential primary next week, where Trump is also expected to win. But that race is expected to be a little tighter — with Haley polling much closer to Trump than any other candidate.

Trump on Iowa win: 'This has been an incredible experience'

Posted January 15, 2024 at 11:44 PM EST
Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump, flanked by sons Eric Trump, second from left, and Donald Trump Jr., right, speaks at a watch party during the 2024 Iowa Republican presidential caucuses in Des Moines on Monday, Jan. 15, 2024.
Jim Watson
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AFP via Getty Images
Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump, flanked by sons Eric Trump, second from left, and Donald Trump Jr., right, speaks at a watch party during the 2024 Iowa Republican presidential caucuses in Des Moines on Monday, Jan. 15, 2024.

Donald Trump thanked Iowans for his win in the state’s presidential caucus Monday.

Trump, who is projected to win this year’s first presidential contest with a double-digit lead, also thanked his team and supporters who turned out to vote despite the arctic blast that brought freezing temperatures throughout the state.

“This has been an incredible experience,” he said.

This is the second time that Trump has won the Iowa caucuses, although during his speech he erroneously claimed to have won nominating contests in the state three times. Trump won the caucuses in 2020 but lost to Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas in 2016.

While addressing his supporters in Iowa, Trump criticized President Joe Biden over the country’s southern border, crime and wars abroad.

“He is the worst president that we have had in the history of our country,” he said. “He is destroying our country.”

Trump also congratulated his opponents for the GOP nomination, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, who Trump said “did a hell of a job.”

“They did very well,” he said of the three.

Trump noted that despite all the money and time his opponents spent in Iowa, they were unable to gain traction in a race that Trump was overwhelmingly favored to win.

“Traction is never easy,” he said. "You need controversy for traction."

Trump said he expects to dominate during the next presidential contest in New Hampshire next week.

Member Station Reports
From Iowa Public Radio

Democrats see expected low caucus turnout

Posted January 15, 2024 at 11:44 PM EST
Democrats gather at the Iowa City High School to discuss party business on caucus night 2024.
Zachary Oren Smith
Democrats gather at the Iowa City High School to discuss party business on caucus night 2024.

Turnout was low for Democrats in Iowa, as expected. Iowa City City High had seven Democratic Party caucuses happening under the same roof. About 25 people showed up to set it up. About another 25 showed up to caucus.

Andy Coghill-Behrends was working the caucus sign-in table. He’s been volunteering with the party for years and says he wasn’t really surprised by the turnout.

“Maybe a little bit lower than 2012 for Obama's second term, but it’s actually a pretty decent turnout I would say, given the conditions outside.”

That 2012 turnout number is one Iowa Democratic Party Chair Rita Hart was hoping for. In a release Monday night, Hart thanked Democrats for coming out in the sub-zero temperatures.

Iowa Democrats are showing their presidential preference by mail this year. They can request a card online. The last day to request a preference card is Feb. 19. The results will be released March 5, on Super Tuesday.

Haley sees strong showings in Cedar Valley

Posted January 15, 2024 at 11:42 PM EST
Republican presidential candidate former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks at her caucus night event on January 15, 2024 in West Des Moines, Iowa.
Joe Raedle
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Getty Images
Republican presidential candidate former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks at her caucus night event on January 15, 2024 in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Republican resistance to Donald Trump’s overwhelming caucus victory came in pockets throughout Iowa, including in Cedar Falls and the Cedar Valley.

As in the rest of Iowa, Republicans gathered to caucus despite subzero temperatures and the former president’s presumptive victory.

The former president’s caucus dominance did not go unchallenged, though. Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley had a strong showing in the Cedar Valley.

Josh Wilson, who caucused for Haley, said he’s tired of political division and thinks Haley might be the answer.

“I’m actually looking for a candidate who can attract other people, not just Republicans, because it’s just not very realistic to think that only Republicans, or Democrats for that matter, are the ones who are going to elect a president. You need those people that are from other parties.”

While the former president won the caucus, Haley came in second in Black Hawk County.

Supporters of Vivek Ramaswamy made a relatively strong showing in Cedar Falls. Hemanshu Patel, who caucused for Ramaswamy, said that while Ramaswamy and the former president have similar ideas, there is one stark difference.

“If you’re a leader, you need to have a vision, and Donald Trump isn’t presenting it. It’s all about, ‘They did this to me,’ and, ‘It’s all unfair.’ We understand that, but what are you presenting to the American public, and to the youth?”

Ramaswamy would ultimately take home about 8% of the state’s total caucus vote, and end his campaign for the Republican nomination later in the night.

Vivek Ramaswamy suspends his presidential campaign

Posted January 15, 2024 at 11:35 PM EST
Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy speaks at his caucus night event at the Surety Hotel on January 15, 2024 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Kevin Dietsch
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Getty Images
Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy speaks at his caucus night event at the Surety Hotel on January 15, 2024 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy announced Monday he is suspending his campaign for president.

“We did not achieve the surprise that we wanted to deliver tonight,” Ramaswamy said.

As of 11:25 p.m. ET, Ramaswamy was running fourth at just under 8 percent with 93% of the vote counted, according to The Associated Press.

The first-time candidate ran a largely self-funded campaign — stressing his business background, outside of traditional politics.

At 38 years old, he was also the youngest major Republican candidate in the race and often spoke about engaging with young Republicans.

Following his announcement to suspend, Ramaswamy publicly endorsed former President Trump in his re-election bid.

Ron DeSantis takes second place in Iowa Republican caucuses

Posted January 15, 2024 at 11:25 PM EST
Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at his caucus night event on January 15, 2024 in West Des Moines, Iowa.
Scott Olson
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Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at his caucus night event on January 15, 2024 in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis finished second in the Republican caucuses in Iowa, according to a race call by The Associated Press.

As of 11:22 p.m. ET, DeSantis had 21.3% of the vote, trailing former President Donald Trump by nearly 30 percentage points. Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley trailed DeSantis by a little more than 2 percentage points.

DeSantis and Haley have been neck and neck in Iowa polling leading up to Monday night. That said, Haley has narrowly surpassed DeSantis innational polling averages.

Heading into caucus night, the Florida governor prioritized campaigning throughout Iowa — making a point to go to all of the state’s 99 counties.

DeSantis also racked up coveted endorsements from Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and evangelical Christian leader Bob Vander Plaats, who had endorsed the last three Republican Iowa caucus winners.

Despite finishing ahead of Haley tonight, DeSantis is expected to face a steeper challenge against both Trump and Haley in the New Hampshire primary on Jan 23.

Following Monday night’s election, DeSantis is expected to shift his focus past New Hampshire to South Carolina, which votes on Feb. 24.

Just In

Trump thanks Iowa supporters after caucus win

Posted January 15, 2024 at 10:37 PM EST
Former President Donald Trump walks on stage at his caucus night event at the Iowa Events Center on January 15, 2024 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Chip Somodevilla/
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Getty Images
Former President Donald Trump walks on stage at his caucus night event at the Iowa Events Center on January 15, 2024 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Former President Donald Trump acknowledged his victory in the Iowa caucuses Monday evening in a post on his social media platform, Truth Social.

"THANK YOU IOWA, I LOVE YOU ALL!" he wrote.

As of 10:25 p.m. ET, Trump holds a 34-point lead over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who stands at 19.9%, and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley at 17.7%, according to The Associated Press.

The AP has yet to call second- or third-place finishers.

Supporters of former US President and Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump celebrate at a watch party during the 2024 Iowa Republican presidential caucuses in Des Moines, Iowa, on January 15, 2024.
Jim Watson
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AFP via Getty Images
Supporters of former US President and Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump celebrate at a watch party during the 2024 Iowa Republican presidential caucuses in Des Moines, Iowa, on January 15, 2024.

Trump's win comes after days of severe weather, resulting in snow and extremely cold temperatures throughout Iowa.

Trump canceled several in-person events over the weekend because of the weather, holding just one on Sunday.

"You can't sit home," he said at a rally in Indianola, Iowa, on Sunday. "Even if you vote and then pass away, it's worth it."

Leading up to tonight's caucuses, Trump's polling lead, both in Iowa and nationally, has endured despite his indictment on 91 charges in four criminal cases.

He also appeared to not take a hit in recent polls for skipping all of the GOP presidential candidate debates.

The Iowa caucuses were downright frigid this year. Here is how they stack up to past ones

Posted January 15, 2024 at 10:32 PM EST

Iowa winters are usually pretty brutal, but this week’s arctic blast delivered some staggeringly low temperatures just in time for 2024’s first presidential contest.

The lowest recorded temperature in Des Moines today was -8 degrees — with wind chills in the -20s and -30s.

This is significantly lower than some of the most recent Iowa caucuses. But, cold weather during the caucuses has always been the norm.

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According to the National Weather Service, one the last chilly Iowa caucus days was in 2008 when it got down to 4 degrees. In 2000, it got down to 5 degrees.

Compared to the last few elections, though, this year’s weather stands out. During 2016 and 2020’s Iowa caucuses, the temperature got down to 27 and 29 degrees, respectively.

Bad weather can always affect an election, but it can be particularly impactful in a caucus.

Unlike a traditional primary — which allows for in-person early voting and mail voting in most cases — voters in a caucus have only one opportunity to show up in person to cast their vote. So icy roads and freezing temperatures could affect turnout in this year’s caucus.

Context

Where do DeSantis voters turn to if he drops out?

Posted January 15, 2024 at 10:19 PM EST
Grant Gerlock
Ron DeSantis' watch party in Iowa.

If Ron DeSantis drops out, many of his voters say that former President, and Iowa caucus winner, Donald Trump, will be their next choice.

DeSantis voters say they chose him because they believe he's more electable. They also expressed concern that Trump has so many enemies in Washington D.C. that it'll be harder to get his policy initiatives pushed forward.

Meanwhile, backers of Nikki Haley are expressing sentiments that they just might not vote come November.

While Republican race for second continues, Iowa Democrats hold quieter caucuses 

Posted January 15, 2024 at 10:15 PM EST
Democrats gather at the Iowa City High School to discuss party business on caucus night 2024.
Zachary Oren Smith
Democrats gather at the Iowa City High School to discuss party business on caucus night 2024.

What drove people who showed up to the Iowa Democratic caucuses despite a -24 windchill, a reelection year and so many changes? Deep party motivation and loyalty.

IPR’s Zachary Oren Smith says for many, this wasn’t their first election or caucus.

Monday’s caucus isn’t about the presidency at all for Democrats. Voters won’t be able to weigh in on their choice for president until they get a presidential preference card in the mail.

It’s been a tricky balancing act between state leaders and national leaders. By holding their caucus tonight and releasing results on Super Tuesday, Democrats say they've met both state law and DNC rules.

The next state to vote has a very different process — and electorate

Posted January 15, 2024 at 10:13 PM EST
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump declares victory in the 2016 New Hampshire Republican primary at his election night watch party in Manchester in February 2016.
Joe Raedle
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Getty Images file photo
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump declares victory in the 2016 New Hampshire Republican primary at his election night watch party in Manchester in February 2016.

Iowa and New Hampshire, the first to states to hold their nominating contests, tend to produce different winners. There are a couple of factors that help explain that.

For one, the people who vote in each of these early nominating states are very different.

A majority of Iowa voters have historically been religious conservatives, more rural and more likely to consider themselves “very conservative.” Historically, about six in 10 Iowa Republican caucus-goers self identify as white evangelical or born-again Christians.

New Hampshire GOP primary voters, on the other hand, are more likely to live in the suburbs.

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The two states also vote differently, logistically speaking.

Iowa is a closed system, so only Republicans can participate. But independents are allowed to vote in New Hampshire's semi-open primary, which helps explain its more moderate electorate.

Unaffiliated, or “undeclared,” voters make up about 40% of New Hampshire voters, so they can make a big difference.

The New Hampshire primary will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 23.

DeSantis campaign questions race call after AP says Trump has 'insurmountable lead'

Posted January 15, 2024 at 9:48 PM EST
Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' podium is seen at his caucus night event on January 15, 2024 in West Des Moines, Iowa.
Scott Olson
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Getty Images
Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' podium is scen at his caucus night event on January 15, 2024 in West Des Moines, Iowa.

The campaign for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis strongly rejected the early victory call by multiple outlets for former President Donald Trump in the Iowa caucuses in a statement released this evening.

"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," DeSantis campaign communications director Andrew Romeo said in the statement. "The media is in the tank for Trump and this is the most egregious example yet."

The Associated Press called Trump the victor for the caucus after an analysis of a large amount of entrance poll data that gives an idea of where the race is headed.

Tonight's results are unofficial, but the AP has a long history of calling race results and has explained how it came to this result in quick fashion.

The AP said this was in addition to the results of "AP VoteCast, a survey of voters who planned to caucus on Monday night."

"Initial results from eight counties showed Trump with far more than half of the total votes counted as of 8:31 pm. ET, with the rest of the field trailing far behind," the AP reported.

This early information indicated Trump had "an insurmountable lead."

NPR relies on AP for its race calls.

Just In

Trump adviser compares Trump's charges to those of civil rights activists

Posted January 15, 2024 at 9:28 PM EST
Former president Donald Trump speaks to voters during a visit to a caucus site at the Horizon Event Center on January 15, 2024 in Clive, Iowa.
Kevin Dietsch
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Getty Images
Former president Donald Trump speaks to voters during a visit to a caucus site at the Horizon Event Center on January 15, 2024 in Clive, Iowa.

Bruce LeVell, a senior adviser to former President Donald Trump, said the early race call for Trump only confirms the campaign's confidence that Trump will win the Republican nomination.

“It will be a sweep all the way,” LeVell said as the campaign looks to winning the next nominating contests in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada.

In an interview with NPR’s Scott Detrow and Ayesha Rascoe, LeVell also compared Trump’s 91 criminal charges to those faced by civil rights activists in the 1960s.

LeVell said that just like how Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested for trying to get citizens to vote, the criminal charges against Trump are being used to “try to persecute and block President Trump from being on the ballot.”

He also said Trump is “technically the incumbent president,” falsely implying that President Biden is not the legitimate president.

“It's blatant that this Biden administration is trying to stop President Trump from being on the ballot. Period,” LeVell said.

Just In

Biden campaign: Trump and Republicans are running on extreme agendas

Posted January 15, 2024 at 9:12 PM EST
Jeffrey Katzenberg, founder and managing partner of WndrCo LLC, from left, Senator Tina Smith, a Democrat from Minnesota, and J.B. Pritzker, governor of Illinois, during a news conference hosted by Biden-Harris 2024 National Advisory Board members in Des Moines, Iowa, US, on Monday, Jan. 15, 2024.
Rachel Mummey
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Bloomberg via Getty Images
Jeffrey Katzenberg, founder and managing partner of WndrCo LLC, from left, Senator Tina Smith, a Democrat from Minnesota, and J.B. Pritzker, governor of Illinois, during a news conference hosted by Biden-Harris 2024 National Advisory Board members in Des Moines, Iowa, US, on Monday, Jan. 15, 2024.

While Republicans in Iowa are convening for their caucuses, the Biden campaign is warning voters that Trump is running on an extreme agenda that is detrimental to the country.

“We know that voters have rejected Donald Trump and the dangerous MAGA agenda that has threatened basic freedoms, their democracy, their pocketbooks,” said Julie Chavez Rodriguez, Biden’s campaign manager, in an interview with NPR’s Ayesha Rascoe and Scott Detrow. “We know that they’ll reject it again in November.”

Meanwhile, the Biden campaign is emphasizing the Biden-Harris administration’s accomplishments, including investments in national infrastructure, passing gun safety legislation and expanding health care access.

“The president’s record of accomplishment is really second to none,” she said.

Read more about the kind of messaging the Biden campaign has pushed in recent weeks:

  • Biden used to never mention Trump’s name. Now, he’s directly invoking him to raise alarms.
  • One other tactic Biden’s using? Calling Trump a loser
  • For Biden, the 2024 election is about a fight to defend democracy.

With no second-place call yet, DeSantis and Haley are neck and neck

Posted January 15, 2024 at 9:04 PM EST
Left: Nikki Haley visits a caucus site at the Horizon Event Center on January 15, 2024 in Clive, Iowa. Right: Ron DeSantis speaks during a campaign event the District Venue on January 14, 2024 in Ankeny, Iowa.
Kevin Dietsch
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Getty Images
Left: Nikki Haley visits a caucus site at the Horizon Event Center on January 15, 2024 in Clive, Iowa. Right: Ron DeSantis speaks during a campaign event the District Venue on January 14, 2024 in Ankeny, Iowa.

Two Republican candidates are battling for second place behind former President Donald Trump.

As of 9 p.m. ET, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley remain in a close race for second place, according to incoming vote counts by the Associated Press.

A second-place spot could have consequential ramifications for either DeSantis or Haley as both fight to stay in the race against Trump, who remains the dominant front-runner nationally.

That said, it's unclear when a second-place finisher will be named. Just 2% of the results are in, according to the AP.

Context

Why AP called the Iowa GOP caucuses for Trump so early

Posted January 15, 2024 at 8:57 PM EST
A sign announcing the Iowa win of US President and Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump is displayed at a watch party during the 2024 Iowa Republican presidential caucuses in Des Moines, Iowa, on January 15, 2024.
Jim Watson
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AFP via Getty Images
A sign announcing the Iowa win of US President and Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump is displayed at a watch party during the 2024 Iowa Republican presidential caucuses in Des Moines, Iowa, on January 15, 2024.

A little over 30 minutes after the Iowa caucuses began, the Associated Press called the results for former President Donald Trump with around 1% of results in.

The whole process was expected to take about an hour and a half.

The caucus was called so early people are still voting and any supporters for Trump haven't even showed up to the watch party yet, according to NPR reporter Danielle Kurtzleben who is at the former president's campaign headquarters in Iowa.

The AP was able to call the results because of an analysis of a large amount of entrance poll data that gives the outlet an idea of where the race is headed.

The AP said this was in addition to the results of "AP VoteCast, a survey of voters who planned to caucus on Monday night."

"Initial results from eight counties showed Trump with far more than half of the total votes counted as of 8:31 pm. ET, with the rest of the field trailing far behind," the AP reported.

This early information indicated Trump had "an insurmountable lead."

With Iowa GOP caucus winner determined, attention moves to second place

Posted January 15, 2024 at 8:55 PM EST

The AP called the GOP caucus winner just over half an hour into caucus night. Many caucus sites are still working through their process and caucusgoers are submitting their votes.

With former President Donald Trump named the winner, attention moves to who comes in second.

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley hopes to take that spot. She's expecting a strong finish tonight, and needs to come out of Iowa looking strong going into New Hampshire.

Haley's main case throughout the start of the presidential process has been electability. She's emphasized her experience as a former governor and U.N. ambassador. She's also pointed out that while Trump might have been the right choice in 2016, he's now bringing chaos into the party.

Trump wins Iowa Republican caucuses

Posted January 15, 2024 at 8:41 PM EST
Former president Donald Trump speaks to voters during a visit to a caucus site at the Horizon Event Center on Monday, Jan. 15, 2024 in Clive, Iowa.
Kevin Dietsch
/
Getty Images
Former president Donald Trump speaks to voters during a visit to a caucus site at the Horizon Event Center on Monday, Jan. 15, 2024 in Clive, Iowa.

Former President Donald Trump has won the Iowa Republican caucuses, according to a race call by The Associated Press.

As of 8:37 p.m. ET, Trump had a sizable lead of 70.2%, with less than 1% of the votes counted.

Trump defeated his major GOP rivals Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who had 15.1% of the vote, and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who had 8.3%.

Tonight marks the second time Trump has won the Iowa caucuses. He easily won in 2020 and came in a close second to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in 2016.

His victory tonight is far from a surprise.

Trump has dominated Iowa polls since last spring, according to FiveThirtyEight. He also increased that lead over the course of the last year, leaving Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley to battle for second place.

Member Station Reports
From Iowa Public Radio

As a freezing caucus night begins, voters are turning out in large numbers in Northwest Iowa

Posted January 15, 2024 at 8:24 PM EST

As a call to order commences at the Western Iowa Tech precinct in Sioux City, one of the largest precincts in Northwest Iowa, it’s -6 outside — but it feels like -26.

IPR's Sheila Brummer reports that the precinct is seeing higher turnout than expected.

For some voters, the caucus is a chance to get out of their homes and make their voices heard. At this precinct in Sioux City, a deeply red part of the state, there appears to be lots of Trump supporters, and a few for DeSantis.

How GOP presidential hopefuls spent the final hours before the caucuses

Posted January 15, 2024 at 8:08 PM EST

Most Republican presidential hopefuls spent the final hours before tonight's caucuses hitting campaign stops throughout Iowa. NPR and member station reporters described some scenes from the trail on All Things Considered:

Republican presidential candidate Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at a campaign stop at Pub 52 on January 15, 2024 in Sergeant Bluff, Iowa.
Anna Moneymaker
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Getty Images
Republican presidential candidate Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at a campaign stop at Pub 52 on January 15, 2024 in Sergeant Bluff, Iowa.

  • Ron DeSantis: The Florida governor made several media appearances and spoke to voters at events in Sergeant Bluff, Council Bluffs and Cedar Rapids. Minnesota Public Radio's Clay Masters says that volunteers from Florida have headed to the Iowa HQ of the pro-DeSantis super PAC Never Back Down in recent days to help DeSantis as he makes his final case. "He's got a lot of organization and investment in the state," Masters said.
The stage is set and ready for the caucus night event for Republican presidential candidate former U.S. President Donald Trump at the Iowa Events Center on January 15, 2024 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Chip Somodevilla
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Getty Images
The stage is set and ready for the caucus night event for Republican presidential candidate former U.S. President Donald Trump at the Iowa Events Center on January 15, 2024 in Des Moines, Iowa.

  • Donald Trump: NPR's Danielle Kurtzleben reported Trump and his surrogates are telling Iowans who support him not to take for granted his large lead in the polls, urging them to still turn out for the caucuses. Trump was represented by a number of surrogates on the ground today, including Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and the former president appeared at a caucus center in Clive, Iowa.
Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy greets supporters during a campaign event at the Machine Shed restaurant on January 15, 2024 in Urbandale, Iowa.
Kevin Dietsch
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Getty Images
Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy greets supporters during a campaign event at the Machine Shed restaurant on January 15, 2024 in Urbandale, Iowa.

  • Vivek Ramaswamy: Masters reports the businessman said this morning that he's going to win the Iowa caucuses. He made several stops on Monday, including Urbandale and Cedar Rapids. With his low polling in the weeks before the caucuses, Ramaswamy claimed on X that the media is unfairly leaving him out of election coverage in a way that is "deliberate" and a form of "voter suppression."
Republican presidential candidate former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, second left, takes a photo with attendees during a campaign event at The Bread Board in Pella, Iowa, Monday, Jan. 15, 2024.
Carolyn Kaster
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AP
Republican presidential candidate former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, second left, takes a photo with attendees during a campaign event at The Bread Board in Pella, Iowa, Monday, Jan. 15, 2024.

  • Nikki Haley: Haley made several stops in the hours leading up to the caucuses, including one at PB's Pub in Newton, and she and her daughter also shopped for baked goods at The Bread Board in Pella. She closed out the day with a final telephone town hall, during which she reiterated her pitch to Iowa voters as representing a new generation of leadership.
Member Station Reports
From Iowa Public Radio

Caucusing begins

Posted January 15, 2024 at 8:00 PM EST
Voters arrive to caucus at Western Iowa Tech in Sioux City.
Sheila Brummer
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IPR
Voters arrive to caucus at Western Iowa Tech in Sioux City.

The 2024 Iowa caucuses have begun.

According to the Iowa GOP, the process is expected to take about an hour and half, with results beginning to appear shortly thereafter.

From the field

Haley's pitch to Iowa: A new generation of leadership

Posted January 15, 2024 at 7:44 PM EST
Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speaks to patrons during a campaign stop at PB's Pub on Monday, Jan. 15, 2024, in Newton, Iowa.
Win McNamee
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Getty Images
Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speaks to patrons during a campaign stop at PB's Pub on Monday, Jan. 15, 2024, in Newton, Iowa.

Iowa state Sen. Chris Cournoyer, Nikki Haley’s campaign co-chair, said she hopes for a second-place finish, which she said would be a strong finish in a state where former President Trump has dominated the polls.

Haley spent the weekend doing a mix of in-person and remote events around this very cold state.

She closed out this evening with a final telephone town hall before caucusing began, during which she reiterated her pitch to Iowa voters:

Haley said the nation is “on fire” and that her experience as a former South Carolina governor and ambassador to the United Nations has prepared her to provide a new generation of leadership for the country.

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From Iowa Public Radio

Doors open at Iowa precincts

Posted January 15, 2024 at 7:32 PM EST
Voters begin signing up to caucus at a Republican caucus precint in Sioux City.
Sheila Brummer
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IPR
Voters begin signing up to caucus at a Republican caucus precint in Sioux City.

Doors are opening at caucus precincts across Iowa and voters are signing up to take part. Caucuses commence at 7 p.m.

DeSantis wanted to be like Trump. To win Iowa, he's now trying to prove he's not

Posted January 15, 2024 at 7:27 PM EST
Then-President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., in the Oval Office of the White House in 2020.
Evan Vucci
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AP
Then-President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., in the Oval Office of the White House in 2020.

Back in 2018, when he was running for governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis famously released an ad in which he taught his young children about then-President Donald Trump.

And Trump really liked DeSantis, endorsing and praising him. At one 2019 rally, Trump introduced DeSantis and praised his bod in the process.

"And then I see him without a shirt one day, and this guy is strong! And he's not fat — that's all power. That's all muscle. I wanna tell you that," Trump told the crowd.

But then DeSantis became a top potential presidential candidate. As of early 2023, he was within spitting distance of Trump in the polls — around 10 points.

So Trump started expending a lot of energy slamming DeSantis. In a recent speech in New Hampshire, he mocked DeSantis, accusing the governor of wearing lifts in his boots.

DeSantis steadily sank in the polls throughout last year and is now more than 30 points behind Trump in Iowa, according to FiveThirtyEight. That's for a variety of reasons, but one obvious possibility is that there may simply not be much room in this primary for a guy who's so clearly Trumpist but isn't Trump.

DeSantis spent a lot of this campaign seemingly ignoring Trump's attacks. But now he is ramping up his criticism of Trump, and often hitting one point hard: He would actually do the Trumpist policies, and better than Trump did.

It's clear that the former president is looming heavily over the DeSantis campaign in the days before the Iowa primary contest. And perhaps unsurprisingly, it's also clear that Trump weighs heavily on DeSantis voters' minds as well.

Read the full story here.

A brief history of the caucus (both the word and the process)

Posted January 15, 2024 at 7:10 PM EST
Signs encouraging people to attend the presidential caucus are seen during the 2024 Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit on Thursday in Altoona, Iowa.
Alex Wong
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Signs encouraging people to attend the presidential caucus are seen during the 2024 Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit on Thursday in Altoona, Iowa.

In case you were curious: The word "caucus" is believed to come from the Algonquin Indian word "cau´-cau-as´u."

It means "one who advises, urges, encourages" and "to talk to ... give counsel, advise, encourage, and to urge, promote, incite to action."

The first known use of "caucus" is thought to be a February 1763 diary entry by John Adams that refers to a club by that name, though an earlier spelling ("corcas") appeared in the Boston Gazette in 1760, according to Oxford University Press.

Nominating caucuses have been around in some form since the 1800s, according to Britannica.

A caucus of a party's members in Congress nominated its candidates for president and vice president from 1796 until 1824. Meanwhile, party members of state legislatures nominated candidates for governor and lieutenant governor.

Critics grew increasingly dissatisfied with what they called the "King Caucus" system, since it didn't allow the general public to participate directly. The election of 1824 was the first in which a majority of electors were chosen by voters.

In the decades that followed, many states went on to adopt primary elections, which are generally seen as more accessible and straightforward. But parties in several states — including North Dakota and Wyoming — still hold caucuses.

You can find a list of all those dates here.

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From Iowa Public Radio

Trump backer: 'The fate of the nation hangs on this'

Posted January 15, 2024 at 6:54 PM EST
The stage is set for former President Donald Trump's caucus night event at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines on Monday, Jan. 15, 2024.
Chip Somodevilla
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Getty Images
The stage is set for former President Donald Trump's caucus night event at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines on Monday, Jan. 15, 2024.

Duane Brown, a caucus captain who backs Donald Trump, says he has supported the former president since Day One and doesn’t think the bitter cold will keep supporters away from the caucuses.

“I think we’ll have a big turnout," Brown said. "Basically, the fate of the nation hangs on this.”

Brown lives in the northwestern Iowa community of Sioux City, one of the most conservative spots in the state. He says the country can’t afford four more years of “communist” Joe Biden, and voters want someone who can fix inflation and the southern border.

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What happened to the Democratic caucuses?

Posted January 15, 2024 at 6:44 PM EST
Caucus Land 2024

Iowa Public Radio's Caucus Land podcast looks at the history of the Iowa caucuses and why the mission of keeping Iowa first in the presidential race is so important to the state parties. The following is an excerpt from Episode 1: Losing first-in-the-nation.

The 2020 Iowa Democratic caucuses didn’t end well. Results were supposed to start rolling quickly as caucus sites completed their work, but a new app for results submissions didn’t work properly. Hours later, results still weren’t known.

The mood among campaigns — and Democrats in the state — went from celebratory to angry. Questions started flying – specifically, whether Iowa should still be the leadoff state in the nominating process.

What happened next

The Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws committee is tasked with setting the calendar of early states in the presidential nominating process. Following the 2020 caucuses, the committee met several times to evaluate who should go first. The Iowa Democratic Party attempted to placate the DNC, proposing dramatic changes to the caucus process to keep its first place spot.

Impact of the Midterms

The Rules and Bylaws committee decided to hold off on making a decision until after the 2022 midterm election cycle. Iowa experienced a big red wave — while the rest of the country didn’t, calling into question whether it was a competitive state for the party.

A month after the midterms, President Biden wrote a letter to the DNC. Biden expressed his support for changing the order of the states in the nominating process. In the letter, he also encouraged the reordering process to be revisited every four years.

In February, 2023, the DNC voted to move Iowa down the line of states. By October 2023 Iowa Democrats and the DNC had compromised: Iowa Democrats would hold their caucuses the same day as Iowa Republicans — Jan. 15. But they would only hold the party business portion of the caucuses. Instead, Iowa Democrats would mail in presidential preference cards, with the results announced on Super Tuesday (March 5).

The future

The Iowa Democratic Party is currently planning to try for the first spot in the nominating calendar for the 2028 cycle.

Listen to IPR’s Caucus Land.

From the field

Here's who DeSantis is winning over in Iowa

Posted January 15, 2024 at 6:42 PM EST
Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis speaks at a campaign stop at Pub 52 on Monday, Jan. 15, 2024, in Sergeant Bluff, Iowa.
Anna Moneymaker
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Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis speaks at a campaign stop at Pub 52 on Monday, Jan. 15, 2024, in Sergeant Bluff, Iowa.

If you talk to enough DeSantis voters, it becomes clear that he is hitting one specific lane well: people who liked Trump’s policies but not his demeanor or political abilities.

Sarah Harbaugh, recently saw DeSantis speak in Cedar Falls:

"My lean towards DeSantis is more just to — I'm not sure that the media and the country would allow Trump to do what he wants to do. Where DeSantis, I think, might have a better chance at getting things done."

DeSantis has done seemingly everything he can to win in Iowa — he has visited all 99 counties and has Gov. Kim Reynolds’ endorsement.

And while he has loyal supporters, particularly among socially conservative white evangelicals, it’s not clear that there’s enough of a lane for him in Iowa.

NPR Newscast

Two possible scenarios for Trump tonight

Posted January 15, 2024 at 6:34 PM EST
A campaign sign supporting Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is partially covered in snow on Monday, Jan. 15, 2024, in Pella, Iowa.
Joe Raedle
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Getty Images
A campaign sign supporting Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is partially covered in snow on Monday, Jan. 15, 2024, in Pella, Iowa.

The big question tonight is whether former President Donald Trump does as well as some of the polls here would suggest. Clearly on the ground, there is plenty of support here. It's definitely Trump country, the further away from Des Moines that you get.

Rachel Payne Caufield, a professor at Drake University, explains:

"If Donald Trump is able to get more than 50% on caucus night, he is the absolute, undefeated winner," Payne Caufield said. "And it would be hard, I think, for anybody to even remotely think that there's a viable alternative to Donald Trump."

"If, however he comes in at, say, 42% and Nikki Haley or Ron DeSantis is able to come up to, say, 25%, then the story out of Iowa is momentum for an alternative to Donald Trump."

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Iowa GOP co-chair confident in new app 

Posted January 15, 2024 at 6:14 PM EST

The Republican Party of Iowa will use an app to transmit 2024 results from precincts to state headquarters. Iowa GOP co-chair Linda Upmeyer says she’s confident that the new system will hold up, even with heavy usage.

"This is not an app that someone sent us at the last minute as sometimes happens, we observe, and we don't know if it works. This has been tested."

Upmeyer encourages precincts to use the app to make their selections, as the alternative, phone lines, are expected to have long wait times.

"So we've had staff all over the state, working with every one of these precincts, every one of these caucuses, to go through exactly how the app works, exactly how the process works."

Upmeyer says in the event that the app does fail, they'll turn to the phones as a backup system.

🔊 Listen to the full conversation on IPR’s River to River.

NPR Newscast

Nikki Haley: 'It's very personal to get into a race like this; it's very personal to get out'

Posted January 15, 2024 at 6:12 PM EST
Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley greets supporters during a campaign stop at the Drake Diner in Des Moines on Monday, Jan. 15, 2024.
Win McNamee
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Getty Images
Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley greets supporters during a campaign stop at the Drake Diner in Des Moines on Monday, Jan. 15, 2024.

Former President Donald Trump spent much of Monday slamming two of his rivals, Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

When Haley was asked if DeSantis should drop out if he comes in third in Iowa, she said it's a personal choice:

"That's for Ron to decide. I have never said when someone should get out of the race. It's very personal to get into a race like this; it's very personal to get out. We've been focused on our race."

Just In

Tonight's attention is on Trump, Haley and DeSantis. Vivek Ramaswamy isn't pleased

Posted January 15, 2024 at 5:50 PM EST
Republican presidential candidate businessman Vivek Ramaswamy speaks during a campaign stop on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024, in Ames, Iowa.
Tasos Katopodis
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Getty Images
Republican presidential candidate businessman Vivek Ramaswamy speaks during a campaign stop on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024, in Ames, Iowa.

The focus of the Iowa caucuses is centered on former President Donald Trump, Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — much to the chagrin of Vivek Ramaswamy.

The latest polls show Trump with a sizable lead followed by Haley and DeSantis.

But Ramaswamy, who is polling fourth in the single digits behind DeSantis, is posting frequently on social media griping that news outlets, including CNN and Fox, are leaving him out of reporting on the caucuses.

On Monday morning he complained on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, that a Fox News Iowa map focused just on the top three contenders.

"I was in the Fox News studio in Des Moines this morning and noticed something interesting: They forgot one candidate tonight. I’ll trust them to fix it," he wrote.

The businessman and Republican candidate retweeted several users who claimed Ramaswamy is being ignored in the race, some comparing it to "erasure." Ramaswamy has been using phrases like "rigged" to describe the lack of attention on him in polls and on media platforms.

But Ramaswamy and his campaign are using this to bolster support in Iowa, urging his backers to come out in the freezing temps to vote for him to "stick it to the media and shock the world."

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From Iowa Public Radio

Casey DeSantis asked non-Iowans to register to vote in the state to caucus. Republicans were quick to correct her

Posted January 15, 2024 at 5:28 PM EST
Casey DeSantis (R) listens as her husband, Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, speaks during a campaign event at the Chrome Horse Saloon one day before the Iowa caucuses on January 14, 2024 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Chip Somodevilla
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Getty Images North America
Casey DeSantis (R) listens as her husband, Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, speaks during a campaign event at the Chrome Horse Saloon one day before the Iowa caucuses on January 14, 2024 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Iowa Public Radio's Caucus Land podcast looks at the history of the Iowa Caucuses and why the mission of keeping Iowa first in the presidential race is so important to the state parties. The following is an excerpt from Episode 4: The perspective that is lost.

Sitting next to her husband on the FOX News Channel on Dec. 8, 2023, Casey DeSantis asked supporters from out-of-state to come to Iowa to caucus:

“We're asking all of these moms and grandmoms to come from wherever it might be — North Carolina, South Carolina — and to descend upon the state of Iowa to be a part of the caucus, because you do not have to be a resident of Iowa to be able to participate in the caucus. So moms and grand moms are gonna be able to come and be a part and to let their voice be heard in support of Ron DeSantis.”

The Republican Party of Iowa immediately issued this reminder: you must be a legal resident of Iowa and the precinct you live in to participate in the caucuses.

Kedron Bardwell, a political science professor at Simpson College in Indianola, said the DeSantis’ FOX appearance is just one example of how misinformation can take over. Even after calling out Casey DeSantis on social media for the blunder, Trump also told voters in Newton on Jan. 6 that he was going to come caucus, even though he cannot.

“Misinformation arises when people see something, believe something, share something without going through the process that a normal editorial editor or an editorial process would catch," Bardwell said. "With no gatekeeper, things spread immediately. And there's really no stopping them. Where do you make the correction? When there's a million people sharing something?”

🔊Listen to IPR’s Caucus Land.

Context

Iowa caucus turnout has historically been low, even with non-record cold

Posted January 15, 2024 at 5:24 PM EST
Three undecided Democratic caucus-goers (C) attend a party caucus in West Des Moines, Iowa in February 2016.
Brendan Hoffman
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Getty Images
Three undecided Democratic caucus-goers (C) attend a party caucus in West Des Moines, Iowa in February 2016.

Low temperatures are driving concerns about low caucus turnout tonight. And participation in the Republican Iowa caucus has historically been low to begin with.

The GOP turnout record for the caucuses is 186,000 from 2016. That’s only about 25% of registered Republicans.

The previous record of 121,000 from 2012 represents only about 16%. That’s well shy of the overall turnout record, 239,000, on either side in the caucuses set by Democrats in 2008.

Part of that may be explained by the logistics — voters must show up in person and stay potentially for hours, which can be a problem for people with disabilities, those who have irregular schedules and parents who lack childcare, among other groups.

So why hold caucuses when primaries are more accessible? Proponents of caucuses says voters are more engaged.

"Rather than simply going in and out of a voting place, caucusgoers have a say in party affairs at the community level," writes NPR's Domenico Montanaro. "That's notable when two-thirds of Americans have reported feeling a sense of non-belonging in the country overall and three-quarters said they feel that way in their own communities."

Here are the numbers from previous GOP caucuses, excluding the years when a Republican incumbent ran for reelection:

  • 2016: 186,743
  • 2012: 121,503
  • 2008: 118,411
  • 2000: 86,440
  • 1996: 96,451
  • 1988: 108,806
  • 1980: 10,6051

Iowa set a general election turnout record of 1.7 million in 2020.

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From Iowa Public Radio

Iowa GOP co-chair predicts record turnout despite temps

Posted January 15, 2024 at 5:12 PM EST

As Republican caucusgoers prepare for a frigid night of voting, Iowa GOP co-chair Linda Upmeyer says that she doesn't expect below zero weather to factor into the results.

"I predict record turnout tonight. Iowans are resilient people. This isn't the first time that they've had cold weather. And when it's cold weather that persists more than a day or two, they learn how to get their groceries and do the things they need to do. And this is one of them. This is one of the things that they value doing. And so I think we're gonna have a really good turnout tonight."

A wind chill warning throughout central Iowa ended Tuesday at noon.

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From Iowa Public Radio

Iowa GOP official urges voters to leave extra time to get to their precincts

Posted January 15, 2024 at 4:52 PM EST
Heavy snow fell in Sioux City, Iowa on Friday.
Kevin Dietsch
/
Getty Images
Heavy snow fell in Sioux City, Iowa on Friday.

SIOUX CITY — The blizzard warning has ended in Iowa, but the bitter cold continues, with wind chill warnings in effect until tomorrow.

Communications Director for the Republican Party of Iowa, Kush Desai, says the weather is obviously a concern as people head out to caucus tonight. But he didn’t seem overly worried.

“Iowans are Midwesterners," he said. "We're used to this in the winter. We had caucuses now for fifty years in the snow, rain, freezing temperatures.”

Temperatures will be cold, with the National Weather Service predicting sub-zero weather and wind chills as low as 45 below likely making for the coldest caucus night on record.

Desai advised caucus-goers to give themselves enough time to make it to precinct sites safely. Everyone must be in place by 7 p.m. CST to make their choice count.

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From Iowa Public Radio

What went into Iowa’s rightward shift

Posted January 15, 2024 at 4:00 PM EST
Snow falls at the Iowa State Capitol Building in Des Moines, Iowa, Jan. 9, 2024, as a winter snow storm hits the state. As frigid temperatures scour the Midwest, Monday, Jan. 15, marks the official start to the Republican presidential nominating contest with the Iowa caucuses.
Andrew Harnik
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AP
Snow falls at the Iowa State Capitol Building in Des Moines, Iowa, Jan. 9, 2024, as a winter snow storm hits the state. As frigid temperatures scour the Midwest, Monday, Jan. 15, marks the official start to the Republican presidential nominating contest with the Iowa caucuses.

Iowa Public Radio's Caucus Land podcast looks at the history of the Iowa Caucuses and why the mission of keeping Iowa first in the presidential race is so important to the state parties. The following is an excerpt from Episode 2: Iowa's march to the right.

In the 2016 Iowa caucuses, Trump came in second to Sen. Ted Cruz, who ran a traditional caucus campaign in the state. While Cruz followed the established caucus formula, Trump tapped into shifting voter sentiments. Specifically, he worked to be appealing to voters feeling left behind and looked down upon.

Researchers have since spent time investigating what happened and why Iowa’s politics in the intervening years have changed so drastically. Iowa State University Sociology Professor Dan Krier and his peers Abdi Kusow and Ann Oberhouser studied county-level data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, looking at how specific identifiers may have affected voting.

Their research showed that rural white voters without a college education were influential in the massive countywide shift to Republican. But it wasn’t economic well-being driving the change — it was social identities and rurality.

In follow-up interviews, the research team found that many of the sampled residents shared a narrative embedded in agrarian populism — basically that elites were damaging or victimizing the “people.”

Residents in smaller communities emphasized their sense of local loss. And it’s based on an out-migration cycle: younger people have left smaller communities and not returned, resulting in local labor shortages. Those filling the labor needs have been seen as minorities and people from outside the communities. And as minorities and outsiders have moved into those communities, the remaining community members have felt a shift in their community culture. As one respondent said: “It’s just not the same small community that it used to be because of, ya know different cultures.”

The researchers also uncovered resentment against demographically and economically advantaged areas — that there’s a sense that all of the state’s resources go to urban areas, while the smaller areas don’t get their fair share against the work and effort they put in.

This context is useful in seeing the shift in Iowa’s elections. The language and framing of populism and identity movements on the political right are directly integrated into the political culture of rural America. Former President Trump’s rhetoric gave it voice in 2016 at the highest level.

🔊 Listen to Iowa Public Radio's Caucus Land

Just In

Are these the last … first … Iowa caucuses?

Posted January 15, 2024 at 3:47 PM EST
Shadows are seen on an Iowa flag during an event with Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at The Grass Wagon in Council Bluffs, Iowa on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2023. (Photo by
Jabin Botsford
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The Washington Post via Getty Images
Shadows are seen on an Iowa flag during an event with Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at The Grass Wagon in Council Bluffs, Iowa on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2023. (Photo by

Iowa has gone first in the presidential primary season for a long time — over half a century. But despite the caucuses being a longstanding tradition in American presidential politics, some political figures have also advocated to scrap the process.

The Democrats abandoned the Iowa Caucuses this year following technical issues in 2020 that caused delays in tabulating results.

As Republicans get ready to caucus, some think this year could be the finale.

“It's likely the last Iowa caucus, as we have come to know and some have come to love,” said Democratic strategist and data analyst Tom Bonier.

“I, for one, won't miss it,” he laughed. “In this country, we need to be doing everything we can to make it easier for people to vote. And we need to be bringing more diverse voices in… I think it's probably for the best that they move on.”

To Bonier, the lack of flexibility in caucuses limits who can participate.

It’s an unconventional system to get behind: There’s no early or mail voting, and all caucusgoers must show up in person at 7 p.m. CT. And this year, that also means braving the freezing weather.

But for Republicans, they’re pushing on with business as usual. And despite voiced criticism over caucus restrictions, compared to primaries, some Republicans still think the system works.

“I wouldn't say the caucuses are outdated,” said former Iowa state Rep. Joe Mitchell. “I actually think they're the best way to do elections specifically for the top person that's going to be the nominee of your party for a presidential election.”

Mitchell leads the organization Run GenZ, which supports young Republicans vying for local and state office. He plans to caucus for former President Donald Trump.

“Being able to have some discourse and some true organic, grassroots people that are speaking on your behalf, I think, is a good thing,” he added.

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From Iowa Public Radio

Iowa Democratic Party Chair optimistic about regaining first-in-the-nation in 2028

Posted January 15, 2024 at 3:32 PM EST

Iowa Democratic Party Chair Rita Hart said she was disappointed by the decision the DNC made about their nominating calendar, but is optimistic that the DNC will put Iowa back in the #1 spot in 2028.

"They've given me every assurance that we are going to be on an even keel for getting back into that first in the nation position in 2028 when it, when we're gonna have a much more competitive line up."

Hart says Iowa is special because it's a state that's more affordable for candidates to travel through, and get up close and personal with people.

"I think it's so vital that small rural states like Iowa have a voice in this presidential nominating process, and have an important voice."

Click through for more from Iowa Public Radio

Who is (and isn't) on the GOP ballot

Posted January 15, 2024 at 3:22 PM EST

Here's who is still in the running for the Republican nomination:

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There is no set list of authorized candidates for the caucus, meaning that participants can vote for any candidate they prefer. The Iowa GOP will track votes for everyone named above, as well as "other," as well as Texas pastor and businessman Ryan Binkley and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who ended his campaign last week.

Christie is the latest to join the growing list of Republican presidential candidates who have dropped out of the race in recent months. They are:

  • Miami Mayor Francis Suarez (Aug. 29)
  • Former Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas (Oct. 9)
  • Former Vice President Mike Pence (Oct. 28)
  • South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott (Nov. 12)
  • North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (Dec. 4)

Read more about who's running and who isn't at NPR's candidate tracker.

Tonight's winners may not be a surprise, but the distance between them matters

Posted January 15, 2024 at 3:05 PM EST
An attendee wears campaign pins and stickers supporting Republican presidential candidate former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley during a campaign event at Country Lane Lodge in Adel, Iowa on Sunday.
Joe Raedle
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Getty Images
A Nikki Haley supporter in Iowa on Sunday. Momentum from tonight's results is important for Haley heading into New Hampshire later this month, where she has cut into Trump's sizable lead.

Tonight's Republican caucus winners may seem largely preordained: Donald Trump is expected to come in first, followed by Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis.

But how much support each candidate gets is important — both in understanding the state of the party and the possible direction of the race, says Sarah Isgur, senior editor of the online conservative magazine The Dispatch.

"The Iowa caucuses matter in a sense, at least historically, when we look back on this election for the role that Donald Trump played in taking over the Republican Party, really owning the Republican Party, and that's why we're going to be watching it so closely," she told Morning Edition on Monday.

One question in Isgur's mind: How closely might Haley come in second place? That momentum is important heading into New Hampshire later this month, where Haley has cut into Trump's sizable lead.

In fact, Isgur says, Haley is expected to win in New Hampshire (which has a more moderate electorate than Iowa).

From there, she says Haley's camp has a bit of a problem since she's "not really playing in Nevada at all" and trailing Trump in South Carolina — her home state — by double digits. Then comes Super Tuesday, "which is basically a national election where Donald Trump is up 30+ points."

"The strategy of the Haley campaign at this point is to win New Hampshire, and that momentum will dull Donald Trump's hold on the party, and they're really counting on that," she explains.

What does any of this have to do with tonight's caucus? Isgur says the connection is clear:

"They have to come in second in Iowa to hope for that win in New Hampshire."

Listen to the full interview here.

Context

How will young Republicans vote?

Posted January 15, 2024 at 2:47 PM EST
Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. President Donald Trump walks onstage at a campaign rally before giving remarks on Jan. 5, 2024 in Mason City, Iowa.
Anna Moneymaker
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Getty Images
Trump is dominating in Iowa polls. And nationally, he’s doing well with young Republicans.

Many conservative Gen Z and millennial voters are on the Trump train.

“Trump has courted young conservatives and younger Republicans better and more than any other candidate in the race,” said former Iowa state Rep. Joe Mitchell.

Mitchell, 26, leads Run GenZ, an organization geared at bringing young conservatives into elected office.

“You can see it in his polling numbers,” he added, arguing the former president is ahead of all the other primary candidates, despite being much older.

Trump is dominating in Iowa polls. And nationally, he’s doing well with young Republicans.

A recentNew York Times Siena College poll found that more than 6 in 10 Republican primary voters age 29 and under said they’re most likely to support Trump.

Plus, there’s also some uncertainty right now concerning the political leanings of Gen Z and millennial voters more broadly.

Though a vast majority of young voters have overwhelmingly sided with Democratic candidates in recent federal elections, some recent polling shows a much closer matchup between Trump and President Biden.

Iowa voters are no stranger to cold temperatures

Posted January 15, 2024 at 2:25 PM EST
A campaign worker moves signs in front of Drake Diner in Des Moines, Iowa on Monday.
Carolyn Kaster
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AP
A campaign worker moves signs in front of Drake Diner in Des Moines, Iowa, on Monday.

Tonight's caucuses are being hailed as the coldest on record.

The National Weather Service says highs will be between -1 and -6 degrees Fahrenheit, with wind chills between -35 and -45 F. In these conditions, it warns, frostbite can occur in as little as 10 minutes.

GOP candidates are urging Iowans to brave the temperatures to caucus, which is an in-person process. This event traditionally has low turnout to begin with.

It remains to be seen how tonight's extreme temperatures will affect participation. But it might help to look back at temps and turnout during previous caucuses.

U.S. News & World Report did just that, analyzing the participation and temperatures for the Des Moines area from 2008 onward using data from the county, the New York Times and Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections.

Here's what they found:

  • 2008 saw a low of 4 degrees in the Des Moines area, which is about 11 degrees colder than historic norms. Polk County data shows that some 22,500 Republicans — representing some 31% of the party's active registered voters — cast votes that night.
  • In 2012 the low was 10 degrees, about 5 degrees colder than the norm. Polk County Republicans cast 21,838 caucus votes, which amounts to roughly 27% of its active registered GOP voters.
  • 2016 saw record Republican turnout, amounting to some 38% of Polk County's active registered Republican voters. One could point to the weather — it was a relatively balmy 27 degrees — as one of several factors that made that primary distinct. Among others, it was a relatively crowded field of roughly a dozen major candidates, including Trump.
  • 2020 wasn't a big year for the GOP caucus, because Trump was running as an incumbent. While the lowest temperature was 14 degrees warmer the average, only about 4,349 — or 5.6% of — Polk County Republicans voted.

Sarah Isgur, senior editor of the online conservative magazine The Dispatch, says Iowans are used to voting in this kind of weather.

"This won't be the largest turnout we've seen in the Iowa caucuses certainly, but don't expect it to tamp down turnout as much as others because this is what Iowa does," she told NPR's Morning Edition on Monday.

The caucus is voters' chance to make their voices heard, and Isgur says they take that seriously.

"Republican ... caucusgoers have been out there meeting these candidates four, five, six times, sometimes," she added. "They think it is their civic duty to inform the rest of America, 'Hey, this is what we learned from the retail politics that have been going on in this state.'"

Ads worth nearly $300 million have hit voters so far

Posted January 15, 2024 at 2:02 PM EST
A billboard targeting former US President Donald Trump ahead of the Iowa caucus in Des Moines, Iowa, US, on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. \
Nathan Howard
/
Bloomberg via Getty Images
A billboard targeting former US President Donald Trump ahead of the Iowa caucus in Des Moines, Iowa, US, on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024.

Almost $300 million has been spent to try to win the Republican presidential nomination so far, two-thirds of it in the first two nominating states, Iowa and New Hampshire, according to data analyzed by NPR and compiled by the ad-tracking firm AdImpact.

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Most of that money is coming from super PACs and outside groups. They have historically spent roughly as much as the campaigns do on ads, maybe a little more.

But in this election, an inordinate amount of control of the airwaves is being given to super PACs. Super PACs, unlike campaigns, can raise unlimited amounts of money — from the wealthiest Americans to corporations and labor unions.

Overall, the campaigns and groups supporting them have spent $270 million. They are aiming to win over voters by touting their candidates' strengths, but they're also going after the candidates they see as the biggest threat.

And for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former President Donald Trump, that's Nikki Haley, the former ambassador to the United Nations under Trump and former South Carolina governor.

Read more here.

How reliably do the Iowa caucuses predict the nominee — not to mention the president?

Posted January 15, 2024 at 1:39 PM EST
Republican presidential candidate Robert Dole waves from his campaign's mini-bus during a February 1988 stop in Belmond, Iowa.
Mike Sprague
/
AFP via Getty Images
only three of the Iowa caucus winners went on to become the presidential nominee: George W. Bush in 2000, Bob Dole in 1996 — pictured here in 1988 — and Gerald Ford in 1976.

Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu used to joke that "Iowa picks corn, New Hampshire picks presidents."

There is something to that last part: The winner of the New Hampshire primary has become the Republican presidential nominee in the last three open primaries and six of the eight primaries since 1976.

In the same period, only three of the Iowa caucus winners went on to become the presidential nominee: George W. Bush in 2000, Bob Dole in 1996 and Gerald Ford in 1976.

A recent ABC News analysis found that in the half-century since the start of the modern primary system, the presidential candidates who won Iowa's caucuses failed to win the presidency 16 times, not including uncontested races.

On the other side of the coin, it's entirely possible to lose the Iowa caucus but still become the nominee and ultimately win the presidency.

President Biden broke precedent, losing both Iowa and New Hampshire on his way to the White House. And the last three eventual GOP nominees all lost the Iowa caucuses.

The real currency of the Iowa caucuses is momentum. How candidates perform, especially compared to expectations, can determine who still sees a viable path to the nomination.

Politicos like to say there are "only three tickets out of Iowa" — a nod to the fact that in the last five decades, the eventual presidential nominee has almost always finished the caucus within the top three.

Since 1976, seven of the eight Republican nominees and eight of the last 10 Democrats were in the Iowa top three.

As weather threatens turnout, Trump says, 'even if you vote and then pass away, it’s worth it'

Posted January 15, 2024 at 1:05 PM EST
A man stands next to a flag that reads "Iowa for Trump" outside the the Machine Shed in Urbandale, Iowa on Thursday.
Andrew Harnik
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AP
A man stands next to a flag that reads "Iowa for Trump" outside the the Machine Shed in Urbandale, Iowa on Thursday.

Caucus day is off to a frigid start, with Iowa facing subzero temperatures and a wind chill warning.

"Arctic cold air has settled into the area with temperatures well below zero and accompanying wind chills often in the 20s or 30s below zero, even during the day," says the National Weather Service. "This extreme Arctic air combined with breezy winds at times will continue to create dangerous conditions into Tuesday, with wind chill values as low as 35 below zero possible at times."

GOP candidates and party officials have spent much of the weekend trying to convince voters to brave the conditions for the in-person caucuses even as a series of snowstorms forced candidates to cancel campaign events or shift them online.

As Lexie Schapitl and Don Gonyea reported from Des Moines: "The forecast — brutal even by Iowa standards — could mean a depressed turnout, and has thrown a curveball into a race that has been remarkably steady for months. Former President Donald Trump has led consistently in the polls, at times by as much as 30 percentage points."

The Trump campaign — like those of his rivals — has been urging supporters not to stay home, whether due to apathy or the weather. Donald Trump Jr. made that pitch to Iowa voters in person late last week.

"I understand it's going to be -4," Trump Jr. said. "But if I can get my Florida butt back up here ... everyone can get back up there. We can get out. We can participate in the caucus process."

Trump himself canceled three of his four in-person Iowa events on Sunday because of the freezing cold and snow, The Hill reports. But, at a rally that day in Indianola, he encouraged people to get out and vote for him at any cost:

"You can’t sit home. If you’re sick as a dog, you say, ‘Darling, I gotta make it.' Even if you vote and then pass away, it’s worth it, remember," he said as the crowd laughed and cheered.

When will we get results? Here's an anticipated timeline

Posted January 15, 2024 at 12:56 PM EST

Voting officially begins at 7 p.m. CST, or 8 p.m. ET. The Iowa GOP says initial tallies can start to be reported about 45 minutes later — but the timing of announcing a winner will depend on how close the results are.

Here’s a rough schedule that the Iowa GOP has provided of what they anticipate the day to look like:

6 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. CT: Doors generally open for check-in.

6:30-7:30 p.m. ET / 5:30-6:30 p.m. CT: Most caucusgoers arrive.

8 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. CT: Call to order by temporary caucus chair.

8:05 p.m. ET / 7:05 p.m. CT: Prayer and pledge of allegiance.

8:10 p.m. ET / 7:10 p.m. CT: Permanent caucus chair election.

8:15 p.m. ET / 7:15 p.m. CT: Permanent secretary election.

8:20 p.m. ET / 7:20 p.m. CT: Presidential preference poll.

8:40 p.m. ET / 7:40 p.m. CT: Brief break to count votes/announce winner.

8:50 p.m. ET / 7:50 p.m. CT: Conduct other party business.

9:30 p.m. ET / 8:30 p.m. CT: Vote to adjourn caucus.

9:45 p.m. ET / 8:45 p.m. CT: Results will hopefully begin to appear.

Here's what actually happens during a typical caucus night

Posted January 15, 2024 at 12:47 PM EST

Voters have watched the ads, done their research and have braved the weather to get to their precinct. Now what?

Click here to see the Iowa GOP's anticipated timeline. And here's a more detailed look at what a caucus night entails:

1. After a call to order, prayer and pledge of allegiance, the caucusgoers in the precinct will elect a permanent chair to run the caucus and then a permanent secretary to record the results.

2. A representative from each campaign makes a short speech to make their case.

3. Caucusgoers write down their candidate of choice. In past years, depending on the size of the caucus, this could have been done through a show of hands.

4. Votes are tallied in front of caucus attendees and campaign representatives.

5. Results are written on a form and submitted to party headquarters. Results are also electronically submitted to the state party.

6. Delegates are elected to attend county conventions. Delegates are assigned to candidates based on the same proportion of votes each candidate receives on caucus night.

7. Alternates and junior delegates are elected. (Junior delegates are under 18.)

Bad weather could keep voters home. What might that mean for Trump?

Posted January 15, 2024 at 12:45 PM EST
A Trump sign is stuck in the snow in Pella, Iowa on Monday.
Joe Raedle
/
Getty Images
A Trump sign is stuck in the snow in Pella, Iowa, on Monday.

The temps are predicted to be -4 in Des Moines and -6 in Sioux City when caucus sites open.

That has to affect turnout in a process that sees a low turnout generally — only a high of 1 in 4 registered Republicans usually participate. Predicting who will show up is particularly tough to do in polling; then you throw in record-low temperatures and who knows what the impact will be?

Does the weather hurt Nikki Haley, in particular? Selzer’s poll found about half of Donald Trump’s supporters say they’re “extremely enthusiastic” to vote for him as compared to just 9% of Haley’s and about a quarter of Ron DeSantis’.

Two things are competing with each other when it comes to Trump: His quasi-incumbent status could make him immune from traditional rules of turnout, but he has also consistently drawn more support from Republicans who haven’t always participated in this process.

He lost Iowa narrowly in the 2016 GOP caucuses. Back then, almost half of the participants were first-time caucusgoers, and they broke for Trump. But relying on first-time voters can be fraught, because nothing predicts voter turnout more than past voting behavior.

Trump’s team has tried to account for that with a much better ground game than it had eight years ago, but there’s only so much a campaign can do with dangerous, snow-blanketed roads in negative-degree weather.

Trump is way ahead of GOP rivals in endorsements

Posted January 15, 2024 at 12:29 PM EST
Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump listens as North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum speaks at a rally at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa on Sunday.
Andrew Harnik
/
AP
Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump listens as North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum speaks at a rally at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa on Sunday.

Ahead of the Iowa caucuses, Donald Trump not only has a massive lead in the polls. He's also way ahead in endorsements by fellow Republicans.

Trump has the backing of well over 100 GOP governors and members of Congress — including more than 20 U.S. senators and top House members like Speaker Mike Johnson — outpacing his rivals for the party’s nomination in all of those categories. On Sunday he added more: Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, though, has the backing of some key Iowans, including the state’s Republican governor, Kim Reynolds. DeSantis also won the endorsement of prominent Iowa evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats, who has a long track record of picking winning caucus candidates and delivering support from the evangelical voters who make up a significant portion of the party base, particularly in Iowa.

Meanwhile, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley picked up a key endorsement from the next state on the primary calendar, New Hampshire, where Republican Gov. Chris Sununu has thrown his weight behind her. Sununu has said he wants the party to move beyond Trump. On Sunday, she received the backing of former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan as well.

Iowa is mostly about momentum, though the delegates still matter

Posted January 15, 2024 at 12:10 PM EST

There are 2,287 GOP delegates at stake, and a candidate needs a majority to vote for them on the floor of the Republican National Convention to be named the nominee.

That means the magic number for a Republican to become the nominee this year is 1,215. (Since Biden is an incumbent, the delegate count on the Democratic side is more of a formality.)

Iowa and New Hampshire provide a minuscule number of delegates relative to the other states — just 62 delegates combined, or 3% of the total.

They matter a lot more for candidates' momentum and media coverage — especially for those not named Trump.

Context

Why does Iowa always go first? It started as a coincidence

Posted January 15, 2024 at 11:48 AM EST
Snow covers a statue at the Iowa State Capitol building in Des Moines on January 9.
Joe Raedle
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Getty Images
Snow covers a statue at the Iowa State Capitol building last week. The state's caucuses have been the country's first presidential nominating contests since 1972.

While a lot has changed about the Iowa caucuses in recent decades, one major aspect has not: They've been the country's first presidential nominating contests since 1972.

Iowa isn't demographically representative of America or even necessarily predictive of a presidential victory.

But it's important, experts say, because it goes first.

That tradition started in response to the chaotic 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, which was disrupted by violent protests over the Vietnam War and racial tensions.

Iowa and the national Democratic Party looked for ways to make the presidential nominating process more inclusive in the future. Part of their approach involved spreading out the schedule in each state.

Iowa got a head start because its caucus process — which it had used to select party leaders and candidates since the 1800s — was one of the more logistically complex ones (involving precinct caucuses, district conventions and a state convention).

The change took effect in 1972, when Democrats in Iowa held their caucus first in the nation. It was moved up even earlier in the calendar because there weren't any open hotel rooms in Des Moines the week of the Iowa Democratic State Convention, according to the National Constitution Center.

The Republican party followed suit in 1976. Then-candidate Jimmy Carter's landslide victory in Iowa propelled him to the White House — and put the caucuses in the spotlight.

Seeing the benefits, Iowa has since passed a law requiring its caucuses to be held at least eight days before any other state's nominating contest, and no later than the fourth Monday in February.

New Hampshire has held the country's first primary election since 1920, though that tradition didn't develop nationwide prominence for a few more decades. The state passed a law in 1975 enshrining its status as the first-in-the-nation primary.

This year's New Hampshire primary will be held on Jan. 23 (even though the Democratic National Committee had asked state officials to not schedule it ahead of South Carolina's, which is set for Feb. 3).


Correction 4:14 pm ET: An earlier version of this post mistakenly summarized the DNC's request to New Hampshire officials.

Here's where GOP candidates stand on key issues, from abortion to climate to Trump

Posted January 15, 2024 at 11:27 AM EST
TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA - DECEMBER 06: Republican presidential candidates (L-R) former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy participate in the NewsNation Republican Presidential Primary Debate at the University of Alabama Moody Music Hall on December 6, 2023 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The four presidential hopefuls squared off during the fourth Republican primary debate without current frontrunner and former U.S. President Donald Trump, who has declined to participate in any of the previous debates. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan
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Getty Images
Republican presidential candidates Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy participate in the NewsNation Republican debate on Dec. 6 in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

These are the issues that Iowa Republicans say are "extremely important to them," according to a November Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom Iowa Poll: the economy, immigration and border security, government spending and the deficit, the Israel-Hamas war and relations with China.

Where do each of the Republican candidates stand on the issues that matter most to voters?

Whether you're looking for a quick refresher or a more comprehensive deep dive, NPR's politics team has you covered. Check out their "tracking the issues" series to learn more about where the candidates stand on:

Trump leads Iowa polls, though voters there tend to make their minds up late

Posted January 15, 2024 at 11:05 AM EST
A sign supporting Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is displayed on a house in Ogden, Iowa on Thursday.
Kevin Dietsch
/
Getty Images
A sign supporting Donald Trump is displayed on a house in Ogden, Iowa, on Thursday.

The latest polls show Trump with a sizable lead in Iowa (an estimated 51.3%, as of late last week), followed by Haley, DeSantis close behind and Ramaswamy trailing even further.

But polls are only a snapshot of a moment, and it's not unusual for things to change in the days leading up to an election.

In 2016, for example, 45% of Iowa voters said they made up their minds in the last week — almost 1 in 5 said they made their choice on the day of the caucuses.

In New Hampshire, it was even higher — a majority (53%) said they made up their minds during the week before with a quarter saying they decided day-of.

Trump’s quasi-incumbent status could make this year different.

In Iowa, for example, far more Trump backers say they won’t change their minds, compared to his rivals.

Trump is leading by a historically wide margin in Iowa, but many of his supporters say they have never participated in a caucus before. In 2016, 45% of Iowa GOP caucusgoers were first-time caucusgoers, and broke for Trump, though he came up just short against Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

One of the best indicators of whether someone will vote is their past voting record. So whether or not Trump's supporters show up to caucus remains something of a wild card.

Member Station Reports
From Iowa Public Radio

Iowans, are you eligible to vote today? Here's what to know

Posted January 15, 2024 at 10:37 AM EST
People wait in line to attend a rally with Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump at Clinton Middle School in Clinton, Iowa on January 6.
Scott Olson
/
Getty Images
People wait in line to attend a rally with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in Clinton, Iowa on Jan. 6.

Iowans who are at least 18 years old, and those who will turn 18 by Nov. 5, can participate in today's caucuses.

Only Iowa residents who are registered Republicans can participate, and only in their designated home precincts — but Iowans can register to vote or change their party today at their caucus site with a valid form of ID and proof of address.

Democrats will use "presidential preference cards" to choose their party’s presidential nominee through mail-in voting. Iowans have until Feb. 19 to request a preference card, and the party will start to mail those out on Jan. 12.

Here's what to know if you're participating in the caucuses, courtesy of Iowa Public Radio:

Read Iowa Public Radio's full guide here.

Nikki Haley notes 'sad news' about the death of an Iowa principal after school shooting

Posted January 15, 2024 at 10:03 AM EST
Community members gather in Wiese park for a candlelight vigil following the shooting at the Perry Middle School and High School complex on January 4.
Scott Olson
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Getty Images
Community members held a candlelight vigil following the shooting at the Perry Middle School and High School complex on Jan. 4. Nikki Haley called on Americans to acknowledge “the cancer that is mental health in America” on Sunday.

Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley expressed sadness Sunday at the news of the death of an Iowa principal injured earlier this month in a school shooting.

Haley called Perry High School principal Dan Marburger a “hero” who’d “saved lives” during the shooting in a city that Haley noted was “just down the road” from Adel, where she was campaigning ahead of Monday’s Iowa caucuses.

Law enforcement officials said Marburger was shot while trying to protect students.

Before beginning her normal stump speech, Haley noted Marburger’s death and related a story about a deadly school shooting in South Carolina during her time as governor. Without mentioning gun safety, she called on Americans to acknowledge “the cancer that is mental health in America” and asked attendees to pray for the Perry community.

Haley also thanked the teachers and first responders who helped students in Perry after the shooting on Jan. 4.

“It’s such a reminder, I hope, for this community, this state and this country, the good people that came out … the way they took care of those kids,” Haley said.

In addition to Marburger, a sixth-grader died in the shooting and six others were injured. The 17-year-old shooter died after apparently turning the gun on himself.

Iowa Republicans will use an app to transmit caucus results. Sound familiar?

Posted January 15, 2024 at 9:40 AM EST
The Iowa Democratic Party caucus reporting app marred the process in 2020.
Nati Harnik
/
AP
The Iowa Democratic Party caucus reporting app marred the process in 2020.

In 2020, Iowa Democrats used a custom-built app to transmit caucus results. It didn't go well.

The reporting app was riddled with problems, and it took days of combing through hard-copy results before anyone had any idea who won.

So one aspect of Monday's Republican caucuses sounds familiar: The state party will use a brand-new app, designed by an undisclosed third party, to transmit results from the precinct level to the state headquarters.

There are some critical differences between the two processes, and the state Republican Party is extremely confident the system will work tonight. But election experts can't help but notice parallels to Democrats' disastrous technology in 2020.

Read the full story here.

Video: Your guide to the Iowa caucuses

Posted January 15, 2024 at 9:18 AM EST

We're counting down the hours until Iowans brave the cold and head to their caucuses.

In the meantime, here's a handy video explainer of what they'll actually be doing — and why the rest of the country cares so much:

Storylines — and possible surprises — we'll be watching for tonight

Posted January 15, 2024 at 8:49 AM EST
A television monitor in the media filing room displays Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley during the Republican primary presidential debate hosted by CNN in Des Moines, Iowa, US, on Wednesday.
Al Drago
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Bloomberg via Getty Images
Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley faced off during the Republican primary debate hosted by CNN on Wednesday.

You hate to bet against surprises in Iowa, but it seems a stretch to expect much in that regard this time around.

All the polling shows former President Donald Trump with something like half the caucus vote locked up. These numbers have seen little change over the past year. So if Trump were to get less than half the Republican total on Monday night, the Iowa caucuses will have freshened their franchise as the Home of Surprises.

More likely, the story that competes for air time with the frigid weather will be the new second-place status of Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina who has been the focus of coverage in recent weeks. Three of the first four polls reported this past week showed her leading among the GOP also-rans, even getting 20% in an Iowa poll by Suffolk University.

Haley appears to be eclipsing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who began 2023 as the closest thing Trump had to a real rival. But DeSantis' numbers have withered here, as elsewhere. The latest average of Iowa polling by FiveThirtyEight gives him just one GOP caucus vote in six.

Some believe such a disappointment would force DeSantis to drop out of the race entirely,given his heavy investment here and his lower expectations for New Hampshire's primary on Jan. 23. He has often spoken of being "all in" in Iowa, visiting all 99 counties and touting the endorsement of Kim Reynolds, the state's popular Republican governor.

So a crash-and-burn for DeSantis Monday night may be the sort of riches-to-rags saga that makes a strong storyline. But at this point, it would hardly qualify as a surprise. DeSantis has been in decline for most of the past year, from his abortive campaign announcement on Elon Musk's social media platform to his series of flat, unappealing debate performances — including in Des Moines last week.

While not a surprise, such an outcome would add DeSantis to the roster of aspirants whose sky-high expectations fell to Earth in Iowa, including Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (2004), Ohio Sen. John Glenn (1984) and Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (1980).

Read the full story here.

Analysis

Support for Trump is very locked in with Republicans

Posted January 15, 2024 at 8:18 AM EST
Supporters hold signs in front of TV cameras as they wait the arrival of former US President and Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks during a "Commit to Caucus" rally in Clinton, Iowa, on January 6, 2024.
Tannen Maury
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AFP via Getty Images
Supporters hold signs in front of TV cameras as they await Donald Trump's arrival during a "Commit to Caucus" rally in Clinton, Iowa, on Jan. 6.

During former President Donald Trump's 1,462 days in office, his disapproval rating was above 50% in 1,441 of them, according to FiveThirtyEight’s average of the polls.

That’s 98.6% of his presidency. Trump's approval rating ranged between 37% and 46%, remarkably consistent and remarkably unpopular. That unpopularity continued into his post-presidency. After the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, Trump’s unfavorability rating hit a high of 58%. It currently stands at 52%, but has had very little variability.

Trump’s unfavorability rating has been in the mid-50s since April 2021 as views settled back after Jan. 6.

Realize what that means: More than half the country dislikes Trump and has disliked him for a very long time.

And yet … Trump is very popular with Republicans — 78% of Republicans on average say they have a favorable rating of him, and there has been almost no variability on this. He hit a low of 75%, within the margin of error, in December 2022 after the midterm elections, when Republican candidates running in Trump's image underperformed. He hit a high of 84% in September 2021.

In other words, views of Trump — unsurprisingly — are very locked in.

Iowa Democrats won't vote for president today. Here's how their new caucus works

Posted January 15, 2024 at 7:52 AM EST
A flag is attached to the side of a garage in Mitchellville, Iowa.
Scott Olson
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Getty Images
A flag on a snowy garage in Mitchellville, Iowa. The state's Democrats will meet today for "traditional party business," but not to cast votes.

The term "Iowa caucus" may conjure up mental images of people gathering in school gymnasiums, forming and reforming groups based on their presidential preferences.

That voting method was a fixture of the Democratic caucus for the last five decades, but won't be used anymore. The party has drastically reformed its caucus process after the failures of 2020.

Iowa Democrats will still hold party caucuses today, but they won't involve voting for the president.

Instead, the in-person precinct caucuses (which also start at 7 p.m. local time) will meet to conduct what state Democrats call "traditional party business."

"We will elect unbound delegates and alternate delegates to county conventions, elect county central committee members and discuss platform resolutions that can be shared at county conventions," they said.

Democrats will cast their vote by mail using a presidential preference card, which they can request by mail or online through Feb. 19.

The options on the ballot? President Biden, Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips, author Marianne Williamson and "uncommitted."

Cards are being mailed out as of Friday, and results will be released on March 5 (16 states or territories will vote that same day, known as Super Tuesday).

It's a significant change in the process and a demotion in the calendar. The reform is a direct result of the chaotic Democratic caucus of 2020, which failed to produce a clear winner. The smartphone app that the party purchased for precincts to report their winners malfunctioned, as did a backup hotline system.

Even before that debacle, however, a growing chorus of critics had been casting doubt on Iowa's first-in-the-nation status, arguing that its overwhelmingly white population isn't reflective of the U.S. or the growing diversity of the Democratic Party.

Member Station Reports

Iowa Republicans face brutal cold on caucus day

Posted January 15, 2024 at 7:34 AM EST
A supporter of former US president and Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump braves the below zero temperatures to attend a "commit to caucus rally" in Indianola, Iowa, on Sunday.
Jim Watson
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AFP via Getty Images
A supporter of Donald Trump braves the below-zero temperatures to attend a "commit to caucus rally" in Indianola, Iowa, on Sunday.

It's set to be the coldest Iowa caucus on record.

The state is out of a blizzard warning that gripped pretty much all of Iowa over a few days, but now bitter cold has settled in. By the time the in-person Republican caucuses begin at 7 p.m. local time, temperatures are expected to be below zero with wind chills way below zero. It's dangerous cold.

The weather has affected campaigning, with events canceled or moved online instead. And it's likely to affect caucus night turnout, though it's unclear who might benefit.

The candidates have made the cold part of their messaging in the race's final stretch.

Here's Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaking to cheering volunteers at the Iowa headquarters of a super PAC supporting him: “They can throw a blizzard at us and we are going to fight! They can throw wind chill at us and we are going to fight!"

Just In

Here's how to follow NPR's Iowa caucus coverage, today (and beyond)

Posted January 15, 2024 at 7:10 AM EST
Steam from the MidAmerican Energy plant rises during sunset on Sunday in Sergeant Bluff, Iowa.
Anna Moneymaker
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Getty Images
Steam from the MidAmerican Energy plant rises during sunset on Sunday in Sergeant Bluff, Iowa.

NPR journalists will be bringing you caucus news, results and analysis — both online and on the air — well into the evening. Live radio special coverage will start at 8 p.m. ET, when the caucuses officially kick off.

Here's how you can follow along, and where to check back for updates:

The More You Know

What you need to know about the Iowa caucuses

Posted January 15, 2024 at 6:57 AM EST
Campaign signs line the snowy road in front of Drake University, where CNN hosted a presidential debate on Jan. 10, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Chip Somodevilla
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Getty Images
Campaign signs line the snowy road in front of Drake University, where CNN hosted a presidential debate on Jan. 10, in Des Moines, Iowa.

Here are the basics about the process, where they will happen and when they start:

What time do the caucuses take place?

They begin at 7 p.m. CT (8 p.m. ET) and will last roughly an hour. Caucusgoers write down their candidate of choice. In past years, depending on the size of the caucus, this could have been done through a show of hands. Votes are then tallied in front of caucus attendees and campaign representatives to be submitted to the state party.

Who can vote?

Only registered Republicans can vote, but few of them do. The GOP turnout record is 186,000, set in 2016. That's only about 25% of total registered Republicans in the state. But the sub-zero temperatures expected tonight could greatly affect the numbers. The freezing temperatures follow multiple snowstorms that blew through the state recently.

Where do the caucuses happen?

They'll take place in 1,657 precinct locations across all 99 counties in the state, in spaces including libraries, churches and school gymnasiums.

The caucuses will determine how 40 delegates are selected for the party's national convention later this summer. Iowa will receive 2% of the total party delegates, and those delegates will be allocated proportionally.

What about Iowa Democrats?

Democrats will also be caucusing, but they won't cast votes for president at them this year. Instead, they'll send mail-in ballots over the next few weeks, which the party will tally up by March 5 — releasing the state's primary results well after South Carolina's race in February. The reshuffling in the Democratic National Convention nominating calendar comes after calls for a state that is more demographically representative of the country to go first.

Plus, the race won't be as competitive since there aren't any major challenges to President Biden's bid for reelection.

The More You Know

The stakes are high tonight in Iowa. Here's what to watch out for

Posted January 15, 2024 at 6:53 AM EST
The Iowa caucus will be the first test of Donald Trump's hold on the GOP base.
Jon Cherry
/
Bloomberg via Getty Images


The Iowa caucus will be the first test of Donald Trump's hold on the GOP base.

Republicans in the Hawkeye State convene Monday on a potentiallyrecord-breaking chilly night — which will likely affect turnout — to commence the presidential contest for 2024.

The caucuses are the first chance for Republican voters to weigh in on who they want to be their nominee. It will be the first test of Donald Trump's hold on the GOP base. He leads overwhelmingly in polls for Iowa and nationally, as he faces 91 criminal and civil felony charges — including for actions he took as president related to the Jan. 6 insurrection.

The stakes are high. Here's what to watch out for:

  • The margin of victory: Trump has been leading in the polls by historic margins in Iowa, currently an average of 34 points. The largest win ever in the GOP Iowa caucuses was 12.8 points. What will be Trump's margin of victory, if he wins? 
  • The order of finish: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been in second place for the entirety of this campaign, but former Trump U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley has now crept up past DeSantis narrowly, within the margin of error. That correlates with Haley and groups supporting her bypassing DeSantis and allies in their ad spending in Iowa. DeSantis needs to finish second and outperform where he's been polling to have a rationale to continue his campaign.
  • The weather: With a forecast set for a sub-zero high, the inclement weather will likely greatly affect turnout. Trump is relying on first-time caucusgoers, as he did in 2016 when he lost Iowa narrowly. He has a much better ground game in Iowa this time around, but there's only so much you can do in these kinds of conditions.