Trump wins caucus, but cold hampers turnout

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump greets Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird as he speaks at a caucus night party in Des Moines, Iowa, Monday, Jan. 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

By Ty Rushing

January 15, 2024

Most analysts predicted Donald Trump would win the Iowa GOP caucus on Monday, but the question was by how much?

With about 95% of the results in, the former president was up 30 points over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who are battling it out for second place, as of press time.

The Associated Press called the race for Trump 30 minutes after precincts opened.

“We want to thank the great people of Iowa. Thank you, what a turnout, what a crowd,” Trump said at his victory speech in downtown Des Moines.

There was speculation on whether record-low temperatures would keep Iowans from going out to caucus and the weather did have an impact. About 100,000 people participated in the Republican caucuses on Monday, despite the weather, but that was a steep decline from the 2016 record of more than 186,000 Republican caucus-goers, and a 20,000-person drop-off from 2020.

Weather concerns were dismissed by political insiders and Trump used his last rally to encourage people to risk death to support him.

Chad Reisinger of Waterloo, who caucused for Trump, said the weather was not a deterrent.

“I’m already out in the cold anyway, so no big deal there,” he said.

Reisinger said he’s always been a Trump supporter, but did say he was worried if he would be eligible for the ballot.

“I’m looking at my other options, but I’m still honestly taking [and] supporting Trump all the way,” he said.

Another Trump supporter, Austin Gray of West Des Moines, said he didn’t consider caucusing for anyone else.

“The reason I support President Trump for the caucus is I believe that he is an America first candidate, he’s anti-globalism and he’s nationalism—that’s a big part,” he said.

Iowa Democrats Chair Rita Hart said the caucus results show the country what’s at stake in November’s general election.

“Donald Trump and the entire Republican field spent every minute leading up to the caucus twisting themselves in knots to stake out the most extreme positions this country has ever seen,” she said. “Trump showed us exactly what he would do to America if he gets the chance: ban abortion nationwide, cut Social Security and Medicare, make our communities less safe, and give handouts to the wealthy while raising costs on middle-class families. As he keeps campaigning, we know this MAGA wishlist will only grow more dangerous.”

Trump also used his speech to endorse Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird as a future Iowa governor, a not-so-subtle dig at Gov. Kim Reynolds who endorsed DeSantis. Bird endorsed Trump early in the process and was Iowa’s only statewide elected official to support him.

“She really, really stepped up,” Trump said of Bird. “She’s going to be your governor someday I predict, so we’ll see. We’ll see. We’ll be watching, but she broke away from the pack.”

Staff writer Amie Rivers contributed to this report.

  • Ty Rushing

    Ty Rushing is the Chief Political Correspondent for Iowa Starting Line. He is a trail-blazing veteran Iowa journalist, an Emmy-nominated filmmaker, and co-founder and president of the Iowa Association of Black Journalists. Send tips or story ideas to [email protected] and find him on social media @Rushthewriter.

CATEGORIES: ELECTION | Iowa Caucus | POLITICS

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