Iowa caucus results: The GOP presidential field narrows as Ramaswamy and Hutchinson drop out

Published January 16, 2024 at 6:48 AM EST
The GOP presidential candidate field has narrowed to three: Ron DeSantis, Donald Trump and Nikki Haley.
Charlie Neibergall/AP; Joe Raedle/Getty Images; Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former President Donald Trump and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley remain in the 2024 presidential race following the Iowa caucuses.

Candidates Vivek Ramaswamy and Asa Hutchinson both withdrew from the race after disappointing showings in the Iowa caucus. Former President Donald Trump won that vote by a record margin, followed by Florida Gov. DeSantis in second and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley third.

Here's what we're following today:

  • The candidates' focus now shifts to the New Hampshire primary on Jan. 23, where the electorate is more moderate.
  • What can last night's results tell us about the future of the Republican Party? NPR is speaking to politicians, voters and analysts to make sense of the numbers.
  • We still don't know who won the Democratic caucus, since Iowa Democrats are voting by mail this year for the first time. Results are expected on March 5 — which also happens to be the day that more than a dozen other states will go to the polls.
  • Follow along on NPR.org and tune into Morning Edition on your local NPR station to get the latest news and analysis about the state — and future — of the presidential race.

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

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This live blog is winding down

Posted January 22, 2024 at 12:37 PM EST

That's a wrap on today's post-caucus live blog.

But you can find plenty more politics coverage every day on NPR.org, the NPR app on your local NPR station (click here for more). Plus, subscribe to The NPR Politics Podcast and NPR Politics Newsletter.

See you next week for New Hampshire!

This live blog is winding down, but NPR's election coverage sure isn't

Posted January 16, 2024 at 2:25 PM EST

That's a wrap on today's post-caucus live blog.

But you can find plenty more politics coverage every day on NPR.org, the NPR app on your local NPR station (click here for more). Plus, subscribe to The NPR Politics Podcast and NPR Politics Newsletter.

See you next week for New Hampshire!

Ryan Binkley placed ahead of Hutchinson — and is still in the race. Who is he?

Posted January 16, 2024 at 2:01 PM EST
Republican presidential hopeful pastor Ryan Binkley speaks at an event in Des Moines, Iowa, in July 2023.
Sergio Flores
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AFP via Getty Images
Republican presidential hopeful pastor Ryan Binkley speaks at an event in Des Moines, Iowa, in July.

Two Republican candidates have dropped out of the primary since the Iowa caucus.

Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy suspended his campaign late Monday night after finishing in fourth place. Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced late Tuesday morning that he would quit the race, after placing sixth.

Who came in fifth? A little-known Texas businessman and pastor named Ryan Binkley, who's still in the race.

Binkley garnered 774 votes, amounting to 0.7% (a notch higher than Hutchinson's 0.2%). Chris Christie, who dropped out last week, got less than 0.1%.

While there's no official ballot for the Iowa Republican caucus (and voters can vote for any candidate), the state GOP was tracking votes for all of the above.

Binkley is the president and CEO of Generational Group (an investment bank and business advisory) as well as the co-founder and lead pastor of a church, both of which are located in Richardson, Texas.

He declared his candidacy in April 2023, with a solutions-focused campaign bent on restoring Americans' faith in God and each other. Top priorities listed on his campaign website include securing the border, rescuing the economy, transforming health care, revitalizing urban America and restoring unity.

Binkley, 56, became the first Republican candidate to visit all of Iowa's 99 counties in early November (DeSantis accomplished the same feat in December).

But he did not qualify for any of the televised GOP debates or gain any traction in the polls. Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom Iowa Polls put him at 0% in August, October and December, and 1% in January.

Binkley told supporters on Monday night that he would continue to the primaries in New Hampshire and South Carolina.

And he quoted Elton John, who became just the 19th person to achieve EGOT status at the Emmy Awards that same night: “I’m still standing."

Context

A Trump spokesperson says it's time to focus on the general election

Posted January 16, 2024 at 1:41 PM EST
Donald Trump speaks at a watch party during the 2024 Iowa Republican presidential caucuses in Des Moines, Iowa on Monday.
Jim Watson
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AFP via Getty Images
Donald Trump speaks at a watch party during the 2024 Iowa Republican presidential caucuses in Des Moines, Iowa on Monday.

Karoline Leavitt of New Hampshire became just the second Gen Z candidate — and first Republican — to win a House primary in 2022.Leavitt, a former Trump press staffer who amplified his false claims of a stolen 2020 election, ended up losing in the general election.

Now a national spokesperson for Trump's political action committee, Leavitt doesn't believe the former president is facing a similar fate. She pointed to his landslide victory in Iowa as a sign of his momentum — and told Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep that Trump is already focusing on the general election matchup against President Joe Biden.

"It's time for us to turn the page away from this Republican primary and move forward to focus on our ultimate opponent, which is Joe Biden and the Democrats," she said.

She said Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis don't have a practical pathway to the nomination, and said it is "unfortunate" that they didn't back out, as fourth-place finisher Vivek Ramaswamy did. She called on them to "stop wasting millions of dollars, so we can take this fight to the Democrats."

NPR's Franco Ordoñez, who covers the presidential campaign, says the Trump camp wants big wins in Iowa and New Hampshire to stop the momentum of its rivals — but faces an uphill battle in New Hampshire, where there are more independent voters (which is not where Trump tends to perform best).

Leavitt says Trump will be holding campaign events in New Hampshire "pretty much every single night" before the primary on Tuesday.

Trump has a busy schedule this week for other reasons, as another civil defamation trial against him by writer E. Jean Carroll is being held in New York. Leavitt confirmed Trump plans to be there, and made the case for his ability to balance those commitments.

"There is no one that has more tenacity and a greater work ethic than President Trump," she said. "He arrived last night in New York at 3:30 in the morning, he's going to the courthouse this morning, and then he's on his way back to New Hampshire to give a raucous rally speech in front of a very large crowd."

Trump, who is facing 91 criminal charges across four different cases, is expected to face a busy year of court proceedings. Leavitt accused Democrats of election interference by scheduling those trials during the presidential campaign cycle — though, as Inskeep points out, those judges and officials have not explicitly discussed the reasons behind those decisions.

"But it's not going to matter because people see right through it," Leavitt added. "They believe in the president, and they want their lives to return to what they felt like under his leadership."

Leavitt went on to argue that most Americans have concerns about election integrity, and repeated Trump's calls for paper ballots and same-day voting. She said voters should be able to learn election results the night they cast them.

When asked if that would be feasible with paper ballots, Leavitt responded that "we did it for hundreds of years before voting machines."

"America has done it for 200-plus years, actually, as a matter of fact, and many nations around this world do that as well and you hear their results in the exact same night," Leavitt said.

Inskeep added, "When it's not close, that is."

Ordoñez points out that the Republican Party expressed more openness to mail-in voting after the 2020 election, feeling that Democrats had gotten an advantage from early voting (dozens of election officials and court cases across the country have disproven Trump's claim of fraud).

But in recent months, he says, Trump has been pushing for a return to paper ballots and a single day of voting.

Analysis

Strategist: Independent voters may decide the presidential election

Posted January 16, 2024 at 1:20 PM EST

Independent voters — those who are not registered Democrats or Republicans — did not vote in yesterday's Iowa caucus, but they may help decide the 2024 election.

Independent voters are the fastest-growing political identity. A 2023 Gallup poll showed that 40% of adults consider themselves politically independent, while only 27% of adults consider themselves either a Democrat or a Republican.

“We’re the ones who are in it for democracy,” Lisa D.T. Rice, an independent political strategist told NPR’s Morning Edition.

Rice told NPR’s Michel Martin that independent voters are not necessarily interested in a third-party candidate, but rather, a candidate that represents a broader swath of the electorate.

“If one of the parties offers us something to vote for, we’ll be the ones that make the difference in the 2024 election,” Rice said.

Listen to the full story here

What the polls say

Fact check: Is there good polling on Gen Z politics?

Posted January 16, 2024 at 1:02 PM EST

TLDR: Yes, there is good polling, but these voters are new here, and there will be many more polls to come.

When asked about young voters' decreasing support for President Biden in an interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep on Morning Edition, Jack Lobel, national press secretary for the youth-run organization Voters of Tomorrow, argued that pollsters haven't been able to measure Gen Z's political attitudes yet accurately.

"A lot of these polls are conducted by the phone, and a lot of us don't really pick up the phone," Lobel said.

To back up for a second: just 9% of Gen Z and younger millennials (voters under 29) turned out in the Iowa caucuses last night, according to entrance polling.

And while that minimal showing may be chalked up to several factors, questions remain over the larger political attitudes of Gen Z and younger millennials right now.

Notably, young voters have overwhelmingly turned out and supported Democratic candidates over the past few election cycles.

And while phone calls may be slightly passé to young people (and everyone), there's been noticeable dissatisfaction among this age group with President Biden in recent months — particularly over his handling of the Israel-Hamas war.

And this recent polling (notably from the New York Times/Siena College Poll in December) shows a much closer match-up between Biden and former President Trump — especially when third-party candidates are in the mix, according to the recent biannual Harvard Youth Poll.

Plus — while the December poll from The New York Times says surveys were conducted via phone, many surveys are also conducted online — notably, the Harvard Youth Poll — which focuses on young voters under 30.

But again — 2024 marks just the third presidential election in which Gen Z can take part. There will be many more polls.

At least one Emmy winner had something to say about the caucus results

Posted January 16, 2024 at 12:42 PM EST
John Oliver, winner of outstanding scripted variety series and outstanding writing for a variety series for "Last Week Tonight With John Oliver," had thoughts about the outcome of the Iowa caucus.
Frazer Harrison
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Getty Images
John Oliver, winner of outstanding scripted variety series and outstanding writing for a variety series for "Last Week Tonight With John Oliver," had thoughts about the outcome of the Iowa caucus.

Last night wasn't just a big night for politics — it was also the Emmy Awards.

There wasn't too much overlap between the two. But one person did opine on the Iowa results: John Oliver, who has not shied away from criticizing Trump over the years on his late-night, satirical news show.

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver won Emmys last night for outstanding scripted variety series and outstanding writing for a variety series. Oliver, fresh off his win, was celebrating backstage when an ET reporter informed him of the other big victory of the night (Trump's).

"Thanks very much for taking this magical moment and reminding me that joy is ephemeral, pain is forever. I'm glad I heard it first on ET," Oliver said.

"Congratulations to Donald. This is gonna be a fun year," he said into the camera, then jokingly threw his mic down on the table.

For more Emmys coverage, see the complete list of winners and red carpet looks.

Analysis

DeSantis spent a lot of time in Iowa. Will his message resonate in other states?

Posted January 16, 2024 at 12:17 PM EST

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis spent a lot of time in Iowa — in fact, he saw basically all of it by campaigning in all 99 counties.

"We’ve got our ticket punched out of Iowa," DeSantis told a crowd of supporters in the state last night.

DeSantis, who made his campaign about fighting for anti-"woke" policies and against diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, has been popular among conservatives for the past two years, but some of that appeal seems to be waning.

Back in Florida, DeSantis hasn't proposed any new policies for the legislative session that started this month. Florida Republicans have split loyalties when it comes to DeSantis: high-profile Republicans in the state like Byron Donalds have clashed with the presidential candidate, and one congressman even changed his previous endorsement of DeSantis to Donald Trump.

Lynn Hatter, news director at member station WFSU in Tallahassee, Fla., says that while DeSantis' agenda may have resonated with voters in Iowa, his policies and personality may not resonate in New Hampshire next week, where there is a higher percentage of moderate Republicans and independent voters.

"Some people say he just doesn't present very well," Hatter told NPR's Michel Martin.

The similarities between DeSantis and Trump may also prove difficult for the governor going into next week’s caucus. DeSantis’ campaign is trying to appeal to Trump’s base, but that strategy doesn’t seem to be working for him.

"The former president's supporters just seem to like their guy better," Hatter said on Morning Edition. 

Listen to the full story here.

GOP voters in Iowa are 'more energized than ever'

Posted January 16, 2024 at 11:57 AM EST
Supporters of former President Donald Trump celebrate at his caucus night event Monday in Des Moines, Iowa.
Chip Somodevilla
/
Getty Images
Supporters of former President Donald Trump celebrate at his caucus night event Monday in Des Moines, Iowa.

Former President Donald Trump set a record in last night's Iowa caucus: He won by a 30% margin, making it the largest victory in the caucus’ history — surpassing the record set by 1988 Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole.

Gary Leffler, an Iowa precinct captain for Trump, told Morning Edition that this caucus felt different from ones in the past.

“The people are really just more energized than I’ve ever seen them. and I was there in ‘16, and '20, and they are more organized, they’re more dedicated, they’re more enthused.”

Supporters of other candidates also expressed enthusiasm. Morning Edition spoke to voters like Elliott Adkins, who was excited about candidate Niki Haley’s economic and border policies.

“I think she makes a lot of sense with the issues that are important to me,” Adkins said.

While the former U.N. ambassador finished third in the Iowa caucus, people were still enthusiastic about her chance of winning the primary.

“I got nothing against any of the other candidates in the race, but none of our policies matter if we don’t win the general election. I think she’s our best shot at doing that,” said Austin Harris, an Iowa state lawmaker and former Trump supporter.

Listen to the full story here.

Here's how last night's turnout compares to that of previous GOP caucuses

Posted January 16, 2024 at 11:39 AM EST
Caucus worker Michelle White checks voters in at a caucus site in Clive, Iowa, on Monday.
Kevin Dietsch
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Getty Images
Caucus worker Michelle White checks voters in at a caucus site in Clive, Iowa, on Monday.

The days leading up to last night's caucuses were filled with snowstorms, extreme wind chill, freezing temperatures — and a lot of worry about what the weather would mean for turnout.

The Iowa caucuses, which take place in person, have traditionally not attracted many participants (which is one reason why many states opt for more accessible primaries).

The best-attended GOP caucus was in 2016, the last time Trump was on a contested primary ballot. A record 186,000 voters participated — but even that only amounted to some 25% of registered Iowa Republicans.

Turnout was much lower this time around. Only about 110,000 Republicans participated (as of 1:30 a.m. ET, with 99% of results in). That represents less than 15% of the total number of registered Republicans in the state.

Here's how that turnout number compares to previous contested GOP caucuses:

  • 2016: 186,743
  • 2012: 121,503
  • 2008: 118,411
  • 2000: 86,440
  • 1996: 96,451
  • 1988: 108,806
  • 1980: 106,051

It's hard to say how much yesterday's record cold played a role in keeping would-be voters home.
Iowa Public Radio's Sheila Brummer says that some people may have been eager to get out of the house after being stuck at home in snowstorms all week.

NPR's Don Gonyea says while the cold weather may have dampened turnout, there's no reason to think that a greater turnout would have changed the results in any meaningful way.

Regardless, last night's caucus was decided by a relatively small number of key voters — especially when you consider how much money GOP candidates spent on TV ads in Iowa.

NPR's Domenico Montanaro calculated that it comes out to $1,124 per person who showed up to vote.

Context

Why we won't know the results of the Democratic caucus until March

Posted January 16, 2024 at 11:21 AM EST

Iowa Democrats also headed into their caucus last night, but they conducted other party business instead of voting for president.

They will cast their votes by mail this year for the first time ever, fresh off the debacle that was the 2020 caucus (when a glitchy app delayed results for days).

They've changed their process in order to keep their first-in-the-nation status while also complying with the Democratic National Committee's (controversial) new calendar, which makes South Carolina the first nominating contest, on Feb. 3.

Democrats have long called to shake up the primary calendar, to elevate states that they say are more reflective of the party's diversity.

Iowa Democrats are voting by mail now, with the results expected on March 5, or Super Tuesday.

More than a dozen other states and territories will also finish voting that day: Alabama, Alaska (GOP only), Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia. See more key election dates here.

Just In

Longtime Trump critic Asa Hutchinson drops out of the race

Posted January 16, 2024 at 11:17 AM EST
Republican presidential candidate former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks at a caucus site at Horizon Events Center, in Clive, Iowa, Monday, Jan. 15, 2024.
Andrew Harnik
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AP
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks at a caucus site at Horizon Events Center, in Clive, Iowa, on Monday.

Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is dropping out of the presidential race.

"Today, I am suspending my campaign for President and driving back to Arkansas," he said in a statement on Tuesday.

"My message of being a principled Republican with experience and telling the truth about the current front runner did not sell in Iowa," he added.

The announcement comes after Hutchinson secured under 200 votes in the Iowa caucuses on Monday, just 0.2% of the vote.

The former Arkansas governor was never able to break through in the primary field, failing to qualify for the last three Republican debates due to insufficient polling and fundraising numbers.

Hutchinson has long been a public opponent of former President Trump — and entered the race as a moderate option for conservative voters.

What are the biggest challenges for Donald Trump's campaign?

Posted January 16, 2024 at 11:04 AM EST
Former President Donald Trump speaks at his caucus night event at the Iowa Events Center on Monday 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 Monday in Des Moines, Iowa.

A year ago, Donald Trump was considered the Republican Party's favorite candidate for president, but it wasn’t clear that he would dominate the way he did in Iowa last night.

Frank Luntz, a pollster who has worked with Newt Gingrich, attended eight caucuses last night. He told Morning Edition that last night, Trump voters were decided and passionate in their resolve for the former president.

"Trump voters are voting for him not despite what's going on in the outside world, but because of it," Luntz told NPR’s Steve Inskeep.

While the voters he talked to last night were clear that the former president’s indictments and court appearances were not a problem for them, Luntz says Trump might have a harder time convincing the broader electorate that his legal troubles aren't a concern.

"The very thing that makes him so popular among Republicans turns off Democrats and a majority of independents," he said.

And that is important to keep in mind as voters look towards the general election later in the year.

"In the end, just getting your base vote doesn't elect you," Luntz said.

Both President Biden and Donald Trump have a hard road ahead when it comes to convincing voters that they are the right candidate for the job, according to Luntz.

"We have two flawed likely nominees and an electorate who really doesn’t want a rerun of 2020," Luntz said.

Listen to the full story here.

Iowa is just the beginning. Here are some key upcoming election dates

Posted January 16, 2024 at 11:03 AM EST
A voter enters a booth to fill out their ballot at an elementary school.
Scott Eisen
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Getty Images
A voter enters a booth at a school in Manchester, N.H., in November 2022.

The Iowa caucuses mark the official start of election season — and it will be in full swing before we know it.

The New Hampshire primary (for both Republicans and Democrats) is slated for Tuesday, Jan. 23.

February's nominating contests follow in short order:

  • Feb. 3: South Carolina Democratic primary.
  • Feb. 6: Nevada primary.
  • Feb. 8: Republican caucuses of Nevada GOP and U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • Feb. 24: South Carolina Republican primary.
  • Feb. 27: Michigan primary.

Then comes March, with more than a dozen states holding contests on the fifth, aka Super Tuesday:

  • March 2: Idaho, Missouri Republican caucuses.
  • March 3: Washington, D.C. Republican primary.
  • March 4: North Dakota Republican caucus.
  • March 5: Contests in Alabama, Alaska (GOP only), Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia.
  • March 12: Georgia, Mississippi, Washington primaries, the Hawaii Republican caucus and Democratic primaries for the Northern Mariana Islands and Democrats Abroad
  • March 15: Northern Mariana Islands Republican caucus.
  • March 19: Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Ohio primaries.
  • March 23: Louisiana primary, and Missouri Democratic primary.
  • March 30: North Dakota Democratic primary.

Two-thirds of states and territories will have voted for their choice of nominee by the end of March — which is also when former President Trump's trials could be getting underway.

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Primaries continue through June. Republicans will hold their national convention in Milwaukee in July, and Democrats will hold theirs in Chicago in August.

Get the full list of dates here.

The GOP primary field is getting smaller. Here's who's left

Posted January 16, 2024 at 10:46 AM EST
Clockwise from upper left: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former President Donald Trump, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley remain in the 2024 presidential race following the Iowa caucuses.
Christian Monterrosa/AFP, Chip Somodevilla, Kamil Krzacynski/AFP and Win McNamee/Getty Images
Clockwise from upper left: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former President Donald Trump, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley remain in the 2024 presidential race following the Iowa caucuses.

The Republican primary field is even smaller heading into New Hampshire, after entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy dropped out last night.

That leaves just Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley and Asa Hutchinson.

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Hutchinson, the former governor of Arkansas, finished last night in sixth place, with 0.2% of the vote. He came in behind Texas pastor and businessman Ryan Binkley, a little-known candidate who hasn't qualified for any of the debates so far.

Hutchinson told reporters on Monday night that his team will reassess his campaign given the caucus results — but still plans to head to New Hampshire for next week's primary.

"I've got my flight booked there," he said. "But we’re going to reevaluate after this evening. We'll see where we finally end up and if we've got the strength to carry on this campaign beyond Iowa."

Get more details at NPR's candidate tracker.

An Iowa Public Radio reporter reflects on caucus night in Sioux City

Posted January 16, 2024 at 10:32 AM EST
Campaign signs are seen during a winter storm in Sioux City, Iowa on Friday.
Carolyn Kaster
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AP
Campaign signs are seen during a winter storm in Sioux City, Iowa, on Friday.

Iowa Public Radio's Sheila Brummer spent caucus night at a precinct in Sioux City. She shared her observations with Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep today.

"What they do is they get a piece of paper, they write down the candidate's name, and then a precinct chair counts who got what," she explains of the process. "And then they read it over a loudspeaker to everybody, so everyone knows before they leave how the precincts turned out."

Outside, the temperature was six below. Brummer said she expected the weather to affect turnout, but saw the opposite — her site, at Western Iowa Tech Community College, actually saw 25% more people show up.

"It was a week of nasty weather: a couple of snowstorms, a blizzard, the coldest air in a long time, and I think maybe people just wanted to get out of the house," she explains.

After talking to voters, Brummer says many wanted to get out to make sure their candidate was the one to be on the general election ballot in November.

Trump supporters say he's been wrongly accused of the 91 criminal charges against him, she says, while supporters of DeSantis and Haley say the country needs someone without that baggage.

Listen to their full conversation here.

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

Posted January 16, 2024 at 10:19 AM EST
Ballots are stacked on a desk after being counted by Republican caucus officials on January 15, 2024, in West Des Moines, Iowa.
Joe Raedle
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Getty Images
Ballots are stacked on a desk after being counted by Republican caucus officials on January 15, 2024, in West Des Moines, Iowa.

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.

Analysis

Ex-Gov. Scott Walker ran in a Trump-dominated primary before. Here's why he thinks Trump will win again

Posted January 16, 2024 at 10:17 AM EST
Former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks during a Republican Presidential primary debate in August 2023.
Brendan Smialowski
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AFP via Getty Images
Former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks during a Republican presidential primary debate in August 2023.

One person who wasn't surprised by last night's results is former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker — who ran against Trump in the 2016 Republican primary.

Walker emerged as an early front-runner in the GOP race, but suspended his campaign before the Iowa caucuses and called on other Republican candidates in the crowded field to do the same.

He served as governor until 2019 and is now the president of Young America's Foundation, a conservative youth organization.

Walker told Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep that last night's outcome was "exactly what I expected," with an easy Trump victory and a close race for second place. And he thinks it's safe to say Trump will cinch the nomination, too.

Walker predicts New Hampshire is likely Ron DeSantis' "last stand." Even if Nikki Haley wins New Hampshire or comes close, he says, she's likely to lose her home state of South Carolina to Trump next month, as well as the other contests in March.

"It's not done yet, but it's pretty close," Walker says.

Trump has made revenge and redemption central to his reelection campaign, as Inskeep points out. But Walker argues that most Republican voters are motivated not by Trump's election falsehoods, but by what he accomplished during his time in office.

Walker says most Republican voters think DeSantis has done a solid job governing Florida and Haley was a good ambassador to the United Nations.

"So it wasn't attacks on them and preference that way over Trump," he adds. "I think more than anything in the primary — and I would say even among some swing voters in states like mine — there's a feeling amongst voters that they're tired of politicians, of candidates, who say all the right things and then go to Washington and backtrack from the things they promised when they were campaigning."

Walker believes Trump can be an effective president again if he focuses on the issues, particularly the economy, an area of top concern to young voters and one in which President Biden is seen as vulnerable.

"If he focuses on, 'Hey, life was pretty good when I was president, particularly before COVID, we can make that happen again. Here's our plan, in contrast with what's happening with President Joe Biden,' I think he's got a real shot, at least in battleground states like mine," Walker says.

NPR political correspondent Susan Davis and White House correspondent Tamara Keith listened in on Walker's interview, and say he makes some valid points.

Davis notes that young voters are an issue for the Biden campaign, with poll after poll showing a lack of enthusiasm from people age 18-35 about the state and future of the country, and Biden himself. Enthusiasm is an issue for both parties, she adds, and the question of how to get young people to the polls in 2024 looms large.

Keith says the Biden camp acknowledges it has a problem with younger voters, as well as Black and Latino voters. Biden's campaign considers independent voters "a persuasion target," she adds.

Trump's 2nd E. Jean Carroll defamation trial begins in New York this week

Posted January 16, 2024 at 10:02 AM EST
E. Jean Carroll arrives for her defamation trial against former President Donald Trump at New York Federal Court on Tuesday.
Michael M. Santiago
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Getty Images
E. Jean Carroll arrives for her defamation trial against former President Donald Trump at New York Federal Court on Tuesday.

The week between the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary is shaping up to be a busy one for former President Donald Trump — and not just because of campaign events.

Writer E. Jean Carroll's second defamation case against him is expected to begin in New York today.

Carroll first brought a civil lawsuit against Trump, alleging he sexually assaulted her in a Manhattan department store in the 1990s. Trump was found liable last year and ordered to pay $5 million.

In June 2019, while Trump was president, Carroll published a book detailing the incident, which Trump denied, saying she "is not my type." That's the defamation case scheduled for this week.

The trial is expected to last only a few days and wrap up no later than Monday, reporter Andrea Bernstein told Morning Edition.

Will Trump be in the courtroom this week? He didn't attend the last Carroll trial, Bernstein says, but has said he wants to not only attend but testify at this one.

"His lawyers tried to get the trial postponed again, claiming he had to travel for his wife's mother's funeral, but after Carroll's lawyers pointed out he had a rally scheduled on one of the dates he wanted to be off for the funeral, the judge denied that request," Bernstein says.

What could he say? The answer is contested by lawyers on both sides. Last week, New York district Judge Lewis Kaplan wrote that "the fact that Mr. Trump sexually abused — indeed, raped — Ms. Carroll has been conclusively established," effectively blocking Trump's lawyers from arguing that he did not rape her.

Bernstein stresses that the question in front of the "no-nonsense" judge is not whether Trump did it, but how much money he will have to pay.

The last Carroll lawsuit saw a verdict within hours, she adds, so the answer could theoretically come right before the New Hampshire primary next Tuesday.

Trump also faces having to pay hundreds of millions of dollars for business fraud in a separate case, in which a verdict is expected later this month.

Read more here.

Member Station Reports
From New Hampshire Public Radio

Biden hasn't visited New Hampshire since 2022. But the state sure is popular with his Cabinet

Posted January 16, 2024 at 10:02 AM EST

The Biden administration — the president's Cabinet, in particular — has been showing a keen interest in New Hampshire in the crucial final stretch before the Jan. 23 primary.

Just last week, New Hampshire logged visits from five Cabinet secretaries: Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on Tuesday, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on Wednesday and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Friday. That's on top of recent visits from White House senior adviser Tom Perez, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and U.S. Small Business Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman.

They’ve spread out across New Hampshire, talking up spending by the Biden administration on roads, schools, farms and more.

Just don’t ask them whether it all has anything to do with the primary campaign later this month.

More from NHPR

Member Station Reports
From New Hampshire Public Radio

How climate change factors in for young Republicans in New Hampshire

Posted January 16, 2024 at 9:42 AM EST

On a warm December night, in a backroom of a Manchester, N.H., brewery crowded with prospective voters, Chris Barnard was trying to get then-presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy on the record about his views on climate change.

“We know that this is a top three issue for young people,” said Barnard, who's the president of the American Conservation Coalition, an advocacy group focused on conservative approaches to taking action on climate change.

Brian Martinez, who leads the Northeast division for the organization, says nationally, conservative voters are paying attention to candidates' approaches to climate change. Especially younger voters.

"Young people overwhelmingly believe that climate change is real because we're seeing it," he said. "I grew up in Wisconsin. I can't tell you the last time I had a white Christmas."

Martinez cited a 2023 poll from the Cres Forum, a nonprofit focused on conservative climate solutions, which found more than 80% of Republicans under the age of 44 believe climate change is a threat.

More from NHPR

Goodbye to Vivek Ramaswamy and his campaign-focused TikTok account

Posted January 16, 2024 at 9:22 AM EST
Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy speaks to voters at a caucus site at the Horizon Event Center on Monday in Des Moines, Iowa.
Kevin Dietsch
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Getty Images
Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy speaks to voters at a caucus site at the Horizon Event Center on Monday in Des Moines, Iowa.

Tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy ended his bid for president Monday night after a lackluster performance in the Iowa caucuses. The far-right, “America first” candidate was unable to break through in the Republican primary field despite attempting to set himself apart as the youngest major contender in the race.

At 38 years old, Ramaswamy often spoke about being a part of the millennial generation. Subsequently, he joined TikTok a few months back, arguing it was a necessary place to engage with young Republicans. (Young voters have largely voted for Democratic candidates in recent major elections, but about a fourth identify as Republican and more than a third identify as Independent.)

“We’re in this to reach young people, to energize young people, and to do that, we can’t just hide,” Ramaswamy said in his first post back in September. “I care about the issues that affect not just millennials but Gen Z and all young people in this county. We have a generation of politicians that is badly out of touch," he added.

Ramaswamy focused many of his posts on campaigning in Iowa and doing explainer videos tailored to younger voters. He also did collaborations featuring controversial YouTuber and boxer Jake Paul.

The account has more than 357,000 followers.

Ramaswamy was the only major GOP presidential contender to have an official TikTok presence, while his former opponents publicly came out against using the social media platform.

Member Station Reports
From WBUR

Independents and Democrats could help Haley catch Trump in N.H. primary

Posted January 16, 2024 at 9:02 AM EST
Signs line the chairs at a campaign event for former U.N. ambassador and 2024 Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley in Kennett High School in Conway, N.H., on Dec. 28, 2023.
Joseph Prezioso
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AFP via Getty Images
Signs line the chairs at a campaign event for former U.N. ambassador and 2024 Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley in Kennett High School in Conway, N.H., on Dec. 28, 2023.

Following Haley's third-place finish in Iowa, the focus now turns to New Hampshire in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. The first-in-the-nation primary represents a big opportunity for Haley, who, recent polls show, has a chance to pull off an upset victory over Trump, the front-runner who just trounced his rivals in Iowa. Haley is counting on moderate Republicans, independents and even some Democrats to give her a boost in the Granite State.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu predicts that independents will come out in record numbers on primary day and help Haley catch Trump. He believes Trump has reached a "ceiling" of support because many people are just "tired of the chaos."

"I've been in this game long enough to know that political momentum is real," Sununu said.

More from WBUR

What New Hampshire voters are thinking, a week before the primary

Posted January 16, 2024 at 8:41 AM EST
A marker outside the Statehouse in Concord, N.H. describes the history of the state's first-in-the-nation presidential primary.
Holly Ramer
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AP
A marker outside the Statehouse in Concord, N.H., describes the history of the state's first-in-the-nation presidential primary.

The New Hampshire primary is exactly one week away.

Nikki Haley is expected to perform better there than in Iowa — and perhaps even win — given the state's more moderate electorate and semi-open primary, which includes unaffiliated voters.

New Hampshire Public Radio's Josh Rogers spoke to Morning Edition about what voters in the state are thinking as election season begins. Listen to that conversation here.

He notes that New Hampshire is among the least religious states in the country, and polling shows that most Republicans there support abortion rights.

And Independents make up the bulk of the electorate. They gravitated towards Trump in 2016 (he won the primary that year), and are being courted heavily by Haley this time around.

"She'll probably need their backing to make things competitive here," Rogers says.

Rogers says Haley has been finding an audience there for her argument that the country needs a generational shift in conservative leadership.

By contrast, most Republican voters Rogers talks to see Trump's legal issues as "not significant disqualifying factors."

DeSantis, he says, has some "hard-core support" in the state, but not a broad audience — his New Hampshire campaign has felt like "diminishing returns" for months.

Rogers says New Hampshire voters are most concerned about issues like the economy, inflation, the cost of housing, foreign policy and to some extent, immigration.

Voters curious about Haley, for instance, say they're attracted to what they see as her more traditional views on the U.S.' role abroad, Rogers says — whereas those who reject her often cite those same values as a concern, since it's at odds with Trump's "America First" vision.

2nd place winner Ron DeSantis is 1st place in one area: Gen Z voters

Posted January 16, 2024 at 8:26 AM EST
Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at his caucus night event on Monday in West Des Moines, Iowa.
Scott Olson
/
Getty Images
Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at his caucus night event on Monday in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Former President Donald Trump might’ve won last night’s Iowa caucus, but Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis captured the votes of one important demographic: Gen Z voters.

A CNN entrance poll showed that 35% of voters aged 17-29 voted for DeSantis, while 41% of voters aged 30-44 cast their ballots for the former president.

Only 9% of GOP caucusgoers last night were under 30, indicating that young voters aren’t interested in the top Republican candidates, says Jack Lobel, the national press secretary of Voters of Tomorrow, a Democratically aligned nonprofit that works to mobilize Gen Z voters.

“The GOP primary is a race between Donald Trump, who goes against everything young voters stand for, and a handful of other candidates who don’t stand a chance,” Lobel told NPR’s Steve Inskeep on Morning Edition. 

According to national polls, however, Trump is ahead of President Biden: A New York Times/Siena poll released last monthshows that Trump leads President Biden among young voters by 6%.

Listen to the full story here.

How last night's results compared with expectations

Posted January 16, 2024 at 7:54 AM EST
TOPSHOT - Supporters Donald Trump celebrate at a watch party during the 2024 Iowa Republican presidential caucuses in Des Moines, Iowa on Monday.
Jim Watson
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AFP via Getty Images
Supporters of Donald Trump celebrate at a watch party during the 2024 Iowa Republican presidential caucuses in Des Moines on Monday.

One thing is clear from last night: The polls that showed Donald Trump with a significant lead in Iowa weren't wrong.

The fact that the AP called the race for Trump in just over half an hour "confirmed that this was just Trump's night, and it put a big exclamation point on it," NPR's Don Gonyea reports this morning from Des Moines, where it's eight degrees below zero outside.

He says there are two other takeaways of note. For one, Republicans in Iowa are not bothered by the fact that their candidate of choice faces 91 criminal charges. And second, the cold weather did appear to put a damper on turnout — at least compared to the record set in 2016 — but wasn't likely to have made a huge difference.

"There's no sense here that greater turnout was going to change those numbers in any meaningful way," Gonyea says.

Winning Iowa doesn't necessarily guarantee the presidential nomination, Gonyea points out. But he says Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis are facing a steep comeback climb.

"In fact, it's a mountain," he adds.

DeSantis placed second, which Gonyea says he needed based on all he'd invested in the state — visiting all of Iowa's 99 counties and securing the endorsement of its governor. Gonyea says DeSantis arguably needed a "better second place than he got, but this gives him something to hang on to to fight another day."

As for Haley, Gonyea says she's likely at least a little disappointed given her recent rise in the polls, which suggested she could have finished second. But she was always expected to do better in New Hampshire, with its more moderate electorate.

One more notable development: The GOP primary field has narrowed, with Vivek Ramaswamy suspending his race after finishing fourth. Gonyea says those votes are likely to go to Trump — whom Ramaswamy endorsed — since they're running "in the same lane."

Context

The GOP primary could be almost over before Trump's trials even get underway

Posted January 16, 2024 at 7:29 AM EST
Former President Donald Trump sits in New York State Supreme Court during the civil fraud trial against the Trump Organization, in New York City on Jan. 11.
Peter Foley/Pool
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AFP via Getty Images
Former President Donald Trump sits in New York State Supreme Court during the civil fraud trial against the Trump Organization, in New York City on Jan. 11.

The next few weeks will be crucial for the Republican presidential candidates as the primary gets into full swing.

By March 5, aka Super Tuesday, Republicans will have allocated almost half of their delegates. A week later, they'll be up to 54%. And 71% of delegates are set to be decided by the end of the month.

At the same time, former President Donald Trump's trials — over his handling of classified documents, alleged hush money payments and efforts to overturn the 2020 election results at the state and federal levels — will be gearing up.

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Trump, the first former president to be federally indicted, faces 91 criminal charges in four different cases. His legal team has sought to delay them all until after the election.

Trump's federal trial for attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election is set to begin March 4, the day before Super Tuesday, after a judge rejected the defense's request this year to delay the case to 2026.

The trial's outcome and timeline are also notable because almost half of Republican voters have said they wouldn't support the former president if he is convicted of a felony, according to an August Reuters/Ipsos poll.

But this primary calendar means there won't be a verdict in any of the multiple cases against Trump before the nominee is essentially decided.

In total, Trump faces four scheduled criminal trials, including a criminal trial in Georgia that prosecutors have proposed to begin on Aug. 5 — just weeks after the July 15-18 Republican National Convention.

Read more here.

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

Posted January 16, 2024 at 7:10 AM EST

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 pattern.

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 6 in 10 Iowa Republican caucus-goers self-identify as white evangelicals or born-again Christians.

New Hampshire GOP primary voters, on the other hand, are more moderate and 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.

5 takeaways from the Iowa Republican caucuses

Posted January 16, 2024 at 6:57 AM EST

After a year of campaigning and more than $120 million in ad spending in Iowa, the caucuses have come and gone.

And the result was ... what everyone pretty much expected.

Former President Donald Trump won in a landslide.

So what does it all mean? Here are five takeaways:

1. Republicans have been saying they're still with Trump. Believe them.
2. Trump's criminal indictments have only helped him — at least with the GOP base.
3. DeSantis will interpret his second-place finish as a reason to keep on going, but a path to the nomination for him looks closed.
4. The stakes for Haley in New Hampshire just went up.
5. Caucuses just don't feature high participation.

Read the full analysis here.