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Donald Trump carried by the illusion of Iowa

Jim Watson Agence France-Presse Donald Trump's victory in Iowa is far from completely sealing the fate of this race for the Republican nomination.

Fabien Deglise

2:15 p.m. Analysis

  • United States

The vote in Iowa, in the race for the 2024 Republican nomination, gave a resounding victory Monday evening to former President Donald Trump, who collected more than 50% of the votes cast during the state's caucuses from the Midwest.

But the wave, although it seems spectacular, is far from completely sealing the fate of this race. The very low participation rate and, above all, the particular political context of Iowa still leave some hope for the populist's rivals, a few days before the slightly more significant vote in the New Hampshire primaries.

This is because nearly 50% of voters in Iowa, a very conservative state, ultimately did not choose Donald Trump and his political speech of revenge, tinged with hatred and unfounded accusations of electoral fraud. . Victims of freezing weather conditions, the Iowa caucuses also delivered their lowest participation rate since 2008. Barely 111,000 Republican voters, out of the 752,000 registered as of January 2 on the state's lists, were are moved to choose their candidate, i.e. 15% of them (compared to 29% in 2016).

“In fact, Donald Trump only got 56,260 votes,” summarizes Steffen Schmidt, professor of political science at Iowa State University, contacted by Le Devoir the day after this electoral exercise. “The very low turnout also raises several questions about the value of this victory. But in politics, illusion is more important than reality, and that's what continues to drive Donald Trump up in the national polls.”

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Monday evening, barely two hours after the start of the caucuses, Donald Trump trumpeted his victory by strangely calling for unity within the Republican Party, but also by promising good years to come for the oil, gas and extraction. “We're going to dig, baby, we're going to dig,” he said, echoing the pro-industry slogan used by Republican candidate Michael S. Steele in 2008. The populist also promised to “seal the border,” component of his anti-immigration nationalist identity discourse to which his base is very receptive.

“By surpassing 50%, Donald Trump enjoyed a very good evening. But the race is not over yet. The vote against him is still very significant, even if it finds itself divided between Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley,” political scientist Tim Hagle of the University of Iowa said in an interview. Florida's governor came in second, garnering 21.2 percent of the vote. He was closely followed by the former US ambassador to the United Nations, who received 19.1% of the votes.

Ron DeSantis also defied predictions by avoiding a third place which would have threatened his short-term survival in this electoral race. “It wasn’t the worst or the best scenario for him,” Hagle points out. “He beat Nikki Haley for second place, but didn't close the gap to Donald Trump. His path to winning the Republican nomination still remains difficult, but not impossible. He performed well enough on Tuesday night to warrant staying in the race. »

“His problem is that he has no real political organization outside of Iowa and he may not have the money to succeed in one. build one quickly for the future,” adds David Redlawsk, a voter behavior specialist at the University of Delaware.

Nikki Haley braked ?

“As for Nikki Haley, she comes out of Iowa a little hurt, and that could slow down the momentum she had gained in the New Hampshire primaries,” next step in this race for the Republican nomination, notes the professor Redlawsk.

Monday evening, the former governor of South Carolina did not give up, however, positioning herself as a bulwark against the “Trump-Biden nightmare” which is likely to happen again next November . Her candidacy remains “the only and above all the best hope of putting an end to it,” she said from Des Moines, the capital of Iowa. “But it’s more than that. Republicans have lost the popular vote in seven of the last eight presidential elections. There is nothing to be proud of. »

Donald Trump multiplies false statements about the 2020 elections while maintaining worrying and threatening bellicose rhetoric against his political opponents and the founding institutions of the rule of law as well as the country's minorities, a rhetoric that several historians associated with authoritarian regimes.

The day after his victory, the ex-president also went to New York to attend jury selection in the defamation trial between him and columnist E. Jean Carroll. Last May, a court found that Trump had sexually abused Carroll in 1990 and demanded payment of $5 million in damages to the victim. The real estate mogul's legal setbacks should also punctuate the current electoral campaign, with the man facing 91 charges in four separate cases, including one for attempting to steal the 2020 elections and another for initiating an insurrection against the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

New Hampshire’s turn

A recent American Research Group poll of the New Hampshire primaries, conducted just before the Iowa caucuses, places Nikki Haley tied in voting intentions with Donald Trump, at 40 % each.

The division of the vote in the camp of alternatives to Donald Trump, however, remains the big issue in this race. “It was this division, which also existed in 2016, that allowed Trump to become the Republican candidate that year,” underlines Professor Hagle. “In the current race, the fact that he presents himself almost as an outgoing president seeking a new mandate, [rather than as the president stripped of his post after a single mandate], places him facing better numbers than 'in 2016, and makes it even harder for someone else to beat him. »

On Tuesday, the former governor of Arkansas Asa Hutchinson threw in the towel and withdrew from the race for the Republican nomination after coming in sixth place in the caucuses of the day before in Iowa. The politician congratulated Donald Trump on his victory, but has not yet given his support to any of the candidates still in the running.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116