Jim Watson Agence France-Presse Donald Trump supporters brave the cold to go to a rally in support of the former President of the United States.
Camille Camdessus – Agence France-Presse Des Moines
January 14, 2024
The big ball of the American primaries opens Monday in Iowa, where Donald Trump could immediately crush all competition among the Republicans, unless his rivals Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis create a surprise, helped potentially in terrible weather.
The ex-president, four times indicted, faces the judgment of voters for the first time since he left the White House in unimaginable chaos.
Despite his legal troubles, according to polls, he has one of the largest leads ever seen over his Republican rivals.
- Donald Trump is betting big on Monday's caucuses in Iowa
- Trump's two Republican rivals debate, without criticizing him
- At his civil trial for fraud, Trump again denounces “election interference”
The verdict will come Monday starting at 8 p.m., when Iowa voters gather at schools, libraries and fire stations across the Midwest state to decide their candidate.
“We will win hands down,” Donald Trump promises his activists.
He can rely on an army of volunteers who brush aside his legal troubles.
Sunday, the former president is expected in Indianola, a city in central Iowa, where he is to hold a meeting after having canceled several campaign events in this state the day before due to the weather.
Because a last minute unknown disrupts the equation of the Republican favorite: the cold. The entire state is being hit by a snowstorm and the thermometer is expected to drop below -20°C by the time of voting, with icy roads.
Will Donald Trump's voters, confident of his victory, vote under these conditions ?
“If my car will come out of the garage! “, laughs Jeff Nikolas, 37 years old.
For this trucker, encountered by the AFP on his way to buy a heater, only Donald Trump is capable of “putting an end to all the bullshit that is happening in the world at the moment”.
Five candidates are vying to stand in the way of Donald Trump. Among them, only two seem to still have a chance.
On one side, former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, the only woman in the race. The former governor of South Carolina is the new darling of the right, appreciated by American business circles.
On the other side, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a conservative with shocking positions on immigration or abortion. The forty-year-old, former naval officer, has bet everything on Iowa, visiting each of its 99 counties in recent months.
“He has a good sense of leadership,” says Ben Rummelhart, 33, who finds Donald Trump too “vulnerable” because of “all his legal troubles.”
Donald Trump would come well ahead in Iowa with 48%, ahead of Nikki Haley credited with 20% and Ron DeSantis with 16%, according to a poll from several media outlets — Des Moines Register, NBC News and Mediacom — published Saturday.
Interviewed Sunday on ABC and CNN, Ron DeSantis rejected these figures.
“I think it’s very hard to poll an Iowa caucus […] especially when it’s minus twenty” (-30°C), the governor said.
Because Ron DeSantis is counting on these Dantean weather conditions to create a surprise and eat into part of the stormy billionaire's enormous lead.
“Our voters have the opportunity to see their vote count in a very meaningful way,” he said, because turnout “in this weather could be considerably less (than in in 2016), so to all our supporters: bring friends and family.”
However, if Donald Trump does not obtain the triumph predicted for him in Iowa, he risks appearing much more vulnerable for the rest of the race. Because from next week, the highly orchestrated ballet of the primaries will take the candidates to New Hampshire, before Nevada and South Carolina in February.
In turn, the 50 states will vote until June to allocate their quota of delegates to the candidates in preparation for the national convention in July, which will officially nominate the Republican presidential candidate.
For Donald Trump, 77, the priority is to ensure victory before his trials begin, some of which are scheduled to begin in March.
And the Democrats ?
Already with the official support of his party, outgoing President Joe Biden, 81, should, barring any major surprises, be designated in August as their candidate. And this despite repeated criticism of his age.