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Three questions the Iowa Republican caucuses are preparing to answer

Andrew Harnik Associated Press Will Donald Trump confirm his hold on the Republican Party after the Iowa caucuses ? He is seen here Sunday speaking to volunteers at a hotel in Des Moines, Iowa.

Fabien Deglise

January 15, 2024

  • United States

It's a kickoff. Monday evening, Republican voters in Iowa were invited to choose their candidate for the next American presidential election, as part of the caucuses which officially launch the 2024 electoral season in the United States. A first step that is much more symbolic than crucial, but which, despite everything, foreshadows answers to important questions for the rest of the race for the White House.

Will Donald Trump confirm his hold on the Republican Party ?

After losing the presidency of the United States after a single term in 2020, after having delivered a defeat in the Senate  and a bleak lead to his party in the House of Representatives in 2022 and after having been indicted 91 times, in four separate cases, by the American justice system, Donald Trump again and again defies predictions, and moral sanctions, by remaining the number 1 choice of the Republicans at the start of this race.

The latest poll conducted between January 11 and 13 in Iowa by Emerson College confirms this domination by granting 55% of the voting intentions to the ex-president, far ahead of the ex-ambassador of the United States. United at the UN, Nikki Haley, follows in second place with…21%. A trend systematically exposed by the polls of recent weeks, which give a lead varying from 28 to 41 points for Donald Trump.

By reaching 50% of the votes cast this evening in the caucuses, and even surpassing them, the populist would therefore materialize this “historic overwhelming victory” that he has been announcing for months during his visits to Iowa and thus celebrate the unwavering support given to him by the Republicans,  despite the long series of problems that trail behind him. It could also open an easy path for the populist to the 2024 Republican nomination.

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Iowa, however, remains a complex political terrain on which the polls have uncertain influence. In 2016, Donald Trump led in voting intentions during his first attempt at the presidency, but after the caucuses, he had to cede victory to his close rival at the time, Ted Cruz, senator from Texas. Not without calling out electoral fraud, without ever providing proof of it.

Furthermore, a victory in Iowa does not necessarily guarantee the party's nomination. In the Democratic camp, remember that it was Pete Buttigieg who won this state in 2020, the year Joe Biden was elected. It also does not provide direct access to the White House. In fact, since 1972, just three candidates—Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama—have managed to turn their first place finish in the Iowa caucuses into victory in the presidential election nine months later.< /p>

Is this going to be the beginning or the end for Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis ?

It's make or break for the former governor of South Carolina and the governor of Florida, who are playing big this evening in Iowa for second place in this election. After falling in recent weeks to third position in the polls, DeSantis is ultimately very far from the victory in this state that he predicted last May when he launched into this electoral campaign, promising to be the one who will turn the page on the Trump years. The choice of caucuses could therefore be fatal for this other populist who, since entering the race, has continued to lose his support, without really succeeding in creating a real movement around him.

The situation is different for Nikki Haley, who was able to take advantage of DeSantis' decline and even pose as a possible alternative to another candidacy of Donald Trump, which several moderate Republicans consider to be a high electoral risk .

If she were to collect more votes than the polls give her or even register her second place in a smaller gap than expected against the leader, Nikki Haley would then find in Iowa a launching pad for the rest of her campaign. Especially since she also reduced the distance behind Donald Trump in New Hampshire, the next stage of the Republican nomination, next week.

The former American president also seems well aware of the stakes. Monday morning, on his social network Truth, he took a dig at Ms. Haley, continuing to call her “bird brain” and warning his followers that the ex-ambassador “is rarely capable” to beat Joe Biden in the polls. He also accused Fox News — the American right-wing network that helped drive his political rise in 2016 and has long promoted his “alternative” realities — of “working hard” to “give Nikki one last chance.” Haley and Ron DeSantis, promoting “fake polls.”

Are the voters going to be there ?

In 2016, nearly 187,000 voters out of the 615,000 registered Republicans in Iowa took part in the caucuses, one of the highest participation rates in recent years. Will the trend continue in 2024 ? The evening promises to be snowy and frosty, with the mercury expected to drop to -20°C at the opening of the 1657 electoral zones where people must gather to register their choice.

Indeed, unlike the primaries of several states, which consist of putting a ballot in a box during the day of voting or in advance, the Iowa caucuses require the physical presence of the voter from 7 p.m. in a given place for his voice to be counted.

Donald Trump's team has also pulled out all the stops this year to “train” voters in the particular exercise of these caucuses, and this, to avoid the disappointment of a defeat as in 2016.

However, even if weather conditions are likely to have an effect on electoral participation, it remains difficult to say with certainty whether these conditions will help Donald Trump or harm him.

The cold should not in fact stop its most radicalized followers, who risk going in large numbers to electoral gathering places in order to impose their candidate as a bulwark against the policies of Joe Biden, whom they loathe. But conversely, this same cold can deter many others who, under the effect of the consistency of the polls placing their candidate in the lead with a spectacular lead, could choose to stay in the comfort of their living room to watch in front of their television. , warm, a victory written in advance, according to them. And thus contribute to reducing it.

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