Trump Dominates Iowa Caucus

A Deep Dive into the 2024 Iowa Caucus Results

By Jason Collins

It’s that time of the year again, presidential nominating contests, and the Republicans had their first one of the year in Iowa on Martin Luther King Day. Despite a howling winter storm going on last night across the state, voters still turned out to support and nominate their preferred presidential delegate, who will become the party’s nominee and the winner of the caucus. In short order, Donald Trump was the winner. This result shouldn’t be a surprise, but what about the other candidates? How did they do in Iowa? 

We’ll take a deep dive into the results of Monday’s caucus and what it means for the other candidates. 

How Does a Caucus Work? 

Before we start getting to the good stuff, you should probably have some kind of idea of how it works. A representative from each campaign, like Donald Trump or Nikki Haley, would give a short speech telling voters to vote for the campaign’s delegates. Once that’s done, voters are handed secret ballots, and once making their decision, the ballots are collected and counted in open view.  

Here’s what went down in Iowa. 

The Candidates  

On Monday night, we saw the usual faces, if you’ve been following our coverage, hoping to gain their share of delegates. They were, in order of the results: 

  • Donald Trump 51%
  • Ron DeSantis 21.2%
  • Nikki Haley 19.1%
  • Vivek Ramaswamy 7.7%
  • Ryan Binkley 0.7%
  • Asa Hutchinson 0.2%
  • Chris Christie <0.1%

Trump Cements His Lead 

It should be no surprise that former president Donald Trump bested his Republican rivals by more than double. In fact, within the first 30 minutes of the caucus, many news outlets were already reporting that a Trump win was imminent. By the end of the caucus, Trump had gained 56,260 votes and an impressive 20 delegates, whereas DeSantis, in second place, only gained eight delegates.

Trump’s record setting lead proves that his hold on rural America is still strong, but he also outperformed DeSantis and Haley in the suburbs. It’s pretty impressive if you think about it. Trump didn’t attend any of the GOP debates last year and didn’t spend as much time campaigning in Iowa as the other candidates, and yet he still won by a massive thirty points. That must sting for the others, especially DeSantis, who made a point of visiting all 99 of Iowa’s counties. DeSantis won none of those counties. Trump’s margin of victory shouldn’t be surprising to the base of Republican primary voters who are firmly behind the former President, although it did seem to shock political pundits on left-leaning media outlets.

During his speech after hearing that he won, Trump praised his rivals Haley and DeSantis: “I want to congratulate Ron and Nikki for having a good time together.” He’s likely referring to them always neck-and-back in the race. Trump, rarely magnanimous in victory, appeared to take the high ground as he begins to focus on the general election. 

DeSantis Takes Bittersweet Second Place   

Remember how we said that Trump barely visited Iowa, and yet he still won over the state? 

Well, there’s one man who gave the state his whole attention, and what did he get in return? Second place. Floridian governor DeSantis campaigned hard in Iowa. He visited all 99 counties, something that only Sen. Chuck Grassley has managed to achieve, and he got the endorsement from the governor, Kim Reynolds.   

Despite all this, the best DeSantis could do was second place. CBS News shared DeSantis’s upbeat post-caucus speech,

They threw everything but the kitchen sink at us. In spite of all of that that they threw at us, everyone against us, we’ve got our ticket punched out of Iowa. 

DeSantis also threw in a little self-campaigning, saying, “We have a lot of work to do, but I can tell you this: as the next President of the United States, I am going to get the job done for this country. I am not going to make any excuses. And I guarantee you this — I will not let you down.” Is there a possibility that DeSantis could ever be president? The chances are extremely thin at this stage in the race and so his words sounded like wishful thinking.

Vivek Drops Out 

Newcomer businessman turned politician Vivek Ramamswmy surprised us last night by announcing that he is dropping out of the race. This announcement came after his fourth-place position in the caucus, which saw him only earn three delegates, five less than Haley. 

Ramaswamy announced, “As of this moment, we are going to suspend this presidential campaign. There is no path for me to be the next President absent things that we don’t want to see happen in this country.” In true Ramaswamy style, he went on to endorse Trump, saying,

We’re going to do our part now going forward to make sure that America First lives on, to make sure that Donald Trump is successful as the next President of the United States.

We’ll miss Ramaswamy’s spirited “discussions” at the next GOP debate, although we’re pretty sure Chris Christie and Haley will be glad to see him gone. 

Haley Takes a Swing at Trump 

Haley, who came in third behind DeSantis with 21,085 votes and seven delegates (one less than DeSantis), saw an opportunity to take a swipe at Trump even after Trump congratulated her on her performance. Haley compared Trump to Joe Biden, saying,

Trump and Biden both lack a vision for our country’s future because both are consumed by the past, by investigations, by vendettas, by grievances. America deserves better.

By better, according to Haley’s talking points, that means more forever wars, cuts to social security, and a return to establishment Republican economic policy. Haley’s disappointing third-place shows that she is catching up with DeSantis and becoming a favorite among Never Trump and Corporate Republicans, yet remains ignored or downright detested by the Republican base. Still, if DeSantis wants to keep his lead over Haley and remain in the race, he’ll need to break into Trump’s core support soon. 

The Losers 

The top losers of the caucus included Ryan Binkley, Asa Hutchinson, and Chris Christie, none of whom managed to gain a single delegate. For Christie, this is his going away present because it was just five days before the caucus when he announced he, too, is dropping out of the presidential race. What does that mean for the rest of the candidates? 

Well, with Ramaswamy and Christie out and Trump in a strong lead, Haley and DeSantis are hanging in the race by a thread. If it were up to them, both candidates would likely campaign at least until Super Tuesday. Money determines how far a candidate goes, however, not political will. Haley likely has the corporate donors to keep her in the race, at least until the primary in her home state of South Carolina. New Hampshire, next week looms large. If Trump wins by double digits then the Republican primary is over. Should Haley pull an upset or even stay within a few points of Trump perhaps she hangs around until Trump knocks her out on Super Tuesday.

As for DeSantis, a 2nd place in Iowa is probably going to be all he’s going to get out of his presidential run. It’s hard to see him winning any state, even his home state of Florida will likely go to Trump. Considering the high hopes he had going into this presidential bid, this has to make DeSantis feel more disappointed than anyone else in the field. Ramaswamy became a national name and will have a future in Republican Party politics. Haley has firmly established herself as the voice for traditional Republicans, such as those who remain in the party. Christie gets to be on MSNBC for the next decade bad-mouthing Trumpism. But Ron? No one loses more than Ron. He has to return to Florida, face a term limit, and wonder how it all went so wrong.