Trump’s victory in Iowa puts him on track for a comeback despite criminal charges

(Mary Altaffer/Associated Press)

Trump’s victory in Iowa puts him on track for a comeback despite criminal charges

Election 2024

Ziema Mehta
David Lauter
Believe E. Pinho

January 15, 2024

Former President Trump on Monday reached the first milestone in what his allies hope will be a rapid march toward a third presidential candidate.

Iowa Republicans are putting the defeated former president, who faced four criminal cases involving multiple felony charges, on track for another shot at the White House.

Trump won the Iowa caucuses

According to the Associated Press

Thanks to the determination of his loyal supporters, who came on a bitterly cold night that Iowa officials described as some of the worst weather for a caucus in half a century.

It was too early to predict which Republicans would take second place as voting continued across the state.

Democrats did not hold a presidential caucus on Monday. The party

botched the 2020 caucuses

so much so that a winner was never formally named. Amid concerns that Iowa’s predominantly white population was not properly representing the country’s changing demographics, Democrats last year

decided to start their nomination contest

with primaries in South Carolina and Nevada.

Show the results

in case anyone had any doubts,

that Trump retains the fervent support of his die-hard loyalists. His margin of victory

is expected to break

the record in a contentious Republican caucus in Iowa, set by George W. Bush, who won 41% in 2000.

Unlike a primary, where voters can cast their ballots at any time on Election Day, and in many states weeks before the primary election takes place, voters must arrive and stand in front of their neighbors at a specific time, at 7 p.m. to announce who they are. back . At the 1,657 precinct-level caucus locations across the state, supporters of the candidates gave speeches, often airing the grievances and anger that have animated many Republican voters over the border, pandemic-era lockdowns and perceived bias against conservatives.

In pre-election polls, Trump voters were much more enthusiastic about their candidate than supporters of the other candidates.

“There is a Great Awakening happening across the country right now,” said Kathryn M. Heilesen, a CPA in Denison, a small town in western Iowa, who was a caucus captain for Trump. She did not clarify her reference to the Great Awakening, a phrase that dates back to 18th-century evangelism in the US but has also been picked up in recent years by followers of the QAnon conspiracy theories. The phrase dates back to 18th century evangelism in the US, but has recently been picked up by followers of the QAnon conspiracy theories. Heilesen’s vote for the former president was a matter of faith, but also of prophecy, Heilesen said. “And you just have to listen to the prophets, if you listened to them in 2016, they predicted this.” Although the population of Crawford County, where Denison is located, is nearly 30% Latino, caucus turnout was almost exclusively made up of non-Latino white voters.

Nearly half of Trump supporters described themselves as “extremely enthusiastic” about their candidate, according to a Des Moines Register/NBC/Mediacom poll of Iowa voters conducted last week. In contrast, only 9% of Haley’s backers were equally enthusiastic, while 23% of DeSantis voters said they were extremely enthusiastic.

Trump led among all demographic groups tested in the poll, but was especially strong among voters who identified themselves as evangelical Christians and the four in 10 likely caucus voters who identified themselves as supporters of Trump’s “Make America Great Again” movement. Among Trump supporters, 60% called themselves “ultra MAGA” or “regular MAGA,” the poll found.

About half of Haley’s supporters identified as “anti-MAGA,” while only 1 in 10 said they were MAGA supporters.

DeSantis’ voters fell between these two poles, with more than half saying they were neutral on the MAGA movement, the poll found.

Kurt Moore, 54, a DeSantis supporter in Ames, home of Iowa State University, said he didn’t run in the last election because “sometimes you know you’re not going to change anything.”

This time, he said, he would have “driven through a snowstorm” to participate.

“Many of us think we are coming to an end as a country if we don’t move in a new direction,” he said.

“We have a great country… only if we don’t destroy it. With all these people flooding the border… people’s tax dollars are being used to house illegal aliens in schools. We don’t know what a man or a woman is It’s a mess and we have to solve it,” he said. Voters are “willing to go out in two-degree weather to solve the problem,” he added, looking at the roughly 120 people gathered in had gathered a crowded elementary school cafeteria for their caucus.

Moore voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020, but now felt the former president had “had his chance,” he said, and had proven himself inadequate as a leader.

Like several other DeSantis supporters interviewed, he pointed to Trump’s support for lockdowns early in the COVID-19 pandemic and his support for vaccine mandates.

“That’s really what changed everything is the COVID policy,” he said.

In Iowa, as elsewhere, Haley appears to be consolidating support from those who rejected Trump, including disaffected Republicans, independents and some Democrats who said in the poll they planned to cross over and join the Republican caucus, what Iowa rules allow. . She fared best among two groups that have consistently opposed Trump’s suburban voters and white women with college degrees, the poll found.

The poll found that about half of Haley’s supporters were independent or crossover Democrats, and only 23% said they would vote for Trump in a November rematch against President Biden. In contrast, 43% said they would vote for Biden, while the rest supported one of several third-party or independent candidates.

Trump’s criminal liability did not bother the vast majority of likely caucusgoers, the poll found: 6 in 10 said if Trump were convicted it would have no impact on their support for him in November, and another 2 in the 10 said a conviction makes them more likely to vote for the former president. About three-quarters of likely caucus voters said they expected Trump to beat Biden despite his legal troubles.

Only two in 10 likely caucus voters said a conviction would make them less likely to support Trump, but among Haley’s voters, four in 10 said a conviction would make them less likely to support him.

Mehta reported from Des Moines, Lauter from Washington, DC and Pinho from Ames, Iowa. Times staff writer Jack Herrera contributed to this report from Dennison, Iowa.


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