Donald Trump speaks during caucus party in Des Moines, Iowa.(Reuters)

In a record-breaking victory, Donald Trump secured an impressive 51% of the votes in the Iowa caucuses, marking a significant step towards clinching the Republican nomination for the White House. The Associated Press declared the outcome just half an hour after the party assemblies began, raising accusations of interference from Trump’s opponents due to the rapid announcement.

Trump Eyes Third Nomination

Undoubtedly, Trump’s triumph strengthens his aspiration for a third consecutive nomination, positioning himself for a potential rematch with incumbent Democratic President Joe Biden. Despite facing multiple legal challenges, Trump made political history by outpacing his internal rivals by over 30 points, surpassing previous electoral records. “Thanks, great people of Iowa,” Trump exclaimed, adopting a tone of final success in the battle for the White House, emphasizing his desire to “unite the country.”

DeSantis-Haley Duel for Second Place

The competition for the second spot and the chance to challenge Trump in the remaining conservative primaries was more closely contested. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis narrowly secured second place with approximately 21%, while Nikki Haley, former governor of South Carolina and ex-UN ambassador, followed closely behind with 19%. Tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, trailing in single-digit percentages, announced his withdrawal from the race, pledging support to the victorious Trump.

Next Steps: New Hampshire and South Carolina

The outcome’s impact on DeSantis and Haley’s continued pursuit of the nomination remains uncertain. Both have vowed to persist, with upcoming primaries in New Hampshire and South Carolina potentially serving as decisive battlegrounds. DeSantis, who heavily targeted Iowa with his ultra-conservative and evangelical base, faces a critical moment after falling short of expectations. Despite his campaign efforts covering all 99 counties, DeSantis expressed no intention to make excuses for the defeat, pledging not to disappoint his supporters. Haley, relying on a more moderate campaign, also faces challenges after aiming for a robust second place beyond the 20% threshold. Despite thanking her supporters, she acknowledged starting in Iowa with only 2% in polls and now hopes for a comeback, particularly among less ideological and more independent voters in New Hampshire. Haley predicts a national race for the nomination will ultimately become a duel between her and Trump, emphasizing that both Trump and Biden represent the past while she represents the future.

Historic Chill in Iowa

Although Iowa contributes only 40 delegates to the Republican National Convention out of nearly 2,500, the caucuses’ outcome can significantly impact campaigns. Frigid temperatures ranging from 30 to 40 degrees below zero limited caucus participation to an estimated 100,000 to 110,000 voters, compared to 186,000 in recent years. Despite this, the vote dynamics and weight remained unchanged. Trump’s right-wing populist movement, Maga, appeared to resonate primarily with a predominantly white electorate in the state, demonstrating strength among evangelicals, less-educated and popular demographics, as well as segments that had eluded him in the past. Notably, Trump lost the Iowa caucuses in the 2016 primaries but later went on to win the presidency.

Trump’s Message

Today, Trump emerges with greater momentum within the party. His strongman message resonated with a Republican electorate concerned about international conflicts and domestic crises, from immigration to inflation and traditional values. In Iowa, Trump demonstrated an improved ability to build a widespread and robust campaign organization, crucial for success in caucuses and adverse weather conditions. He recruited over 1,800 caucus captains, his representatives in all assemblies, showcasing organizational prowess crucial on the path to the White House.

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