Iowa causus: Rivals in frenzy as Trump favoured to get early lead as Republican nominee

For DeSantis and Haley, second-place could keep hopes alive that Trump’s nomination is not predetermined

Former US President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event, in Clinton, Iowa, US, January 6, 2024. —Reuters
Former US President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event, in Clinton, Iowa, US, January 6, 2024. —Reuters

As Iowans brave bone-chilling temperatures to kick off the 2024 presidential election, Donald Trump emerges as the commanding favourite to secure an early lead in the Republican nomination race. 

The anticipation of Trump’s dominance has turned Iowa’s first-in-the-nation contest into a battle for the runner-up position, with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley vying for a clear alternative to Trump.

A resounding victory for Trump in Iowa would reinforce his claim as the sole contender capable of challenging Democratic President Joe Biden in the November election, posing challenges for rivals like DeSantis, who has heavily invested in Iowa. A recent poll indicated a slip for DeSantis, placing him behind Haley, while Trump maintained a significant lead at 48%.

For DeSantis and Haley, a strong second-place finish could keep hopes alive that Trump’s nomination is not predetermined. However, a third-place finish for DeSantis might prove detrimental as the focus shifts to the more moderate New Hampshire, where Haley is narrowing Trump’s lead.

Both candidates express confidence in exceeding expectations, emphasising their campaigns’ positive trajectory. The frigid Midwest weather poses a challenge, potentially affecting voter turnout for the in-person caucuses. 

Trump’s solid support base, known for its enthusiasm, may give him an advantage, especially if adverse weather conditions deter some voters.

Despite facing legal challenges and maintaining false claims about the 2020 election, Trump remains a dominant force in national polls. As Iowa historically plays a pivotal role in shaping presidential campaigns, the outcome will set the tone for the Republican nomination race, although past instances have shown that winning Iowa does not guarantee the eventual nomination.

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