Former President Donald Trump has won the Republican presidential caucuses in Iowa, according to a projection from The Associated Press. The AP and other outlets made the call about a half hour after the caucuses officially began.
Later in the night, with over 90% of the vote counted, the Associated Press projected Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis would finish second, followed closely by former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley.
A mere 31 minutes after the caucuses started here in Iowa, the Associated Press projects former President Donald Trump will win the Hawkeye State.— Taylor Popielarz (@TaylorPopielarz) January 16, 2024
Not a surprise in any way. And a reminder of Trump's dominance in this GOP primary.
Now we watch the race for second place. https://t.co/hlsk20gJ5w
Trump, who has during the campaign echoed authoritarian rhetoric and said he would be a dictator for the first day of his term on the campaign trail, secured the first victory of the Republican presidential primary as he pursues a rematch with President Joe Biden.
“I really think this is time now for everybody, our country to come together. We want to come together, whether it's Republican or Democrat, or liberal or conservative,” Trump said at his Des Moines, Iowa, campaign headquarters on Monday night. “it would be so nice if we could come together and straighten out the world and straighten out the problems and straighten out all of the death and destruction that we're witnessing. It's practically never been like this.”
According to the Associated Press, Trump won around 51% of the votes in Iowa, followed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis around 21%, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley just above 19% and Ohio entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy just under 8%. With over 90% of the votes counted as of 10:30 p.m. CST. No other candidate was recording more than 1%.
“In spite of all that they threw at us, everyone against us, we’ve got our ticket punched out of Iowa,” DeSantis said in brief remarks on Monday night. “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.”
“Tonight I can safely say that Iowa made this primary a two-person race,” Haley declared shortly after the AP projected she came in third behind DeSantis and Trump.
In remarks, Trump complimented his rivals -- a change of tone from the months prior -- but urged the party to consolidate around him. On stage, Trump was surrounded by key supporters, including North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (“I hope that I’m going to be able to call on him to be a piece of the administration”), former acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker (“very talented and very good”) and Iowa Attorney General Brena Bird (“she’s going to be your governor someday.”)
“I want to congratulate Ron and Nikki for having a good, a good time together. We're all having a good time together. And I think they both actually did very well. I really do,” Trump said. “I also want to congratulate Vivek because he did a helluva job. He came from zero and he’s got a big percent, probably 8%, almost 8%.”
Ramaswamy dropped out on Monday night as Trump spoke in Des Moines.
While polling long suggested Trump would win the Iowa caucuses, the only question that remained was by how much -- and which of his closest rivals will come in second place. As of 10:30 p.m. CST, DeSantis was slightly edging out Haley -- who heads into the next primary state, New Hampshire, within spitting distance of Trump in the polls.
It's also not yet clear how many of Iowa's 40 delegates Trump will win on his way to trying to reclaim the GOP presidential nomination. To clinch the nomination, a candidate must win 1,215 out of the available 2,429 delegates nationwide.
Trump enjoys the support of every member of House GOP leadership, two dozen senators, nearly ten governors and scores of elected officials and local parties across the country.
“Congratulations to President Donald Trump for a resounding victory in Iowa!” House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., posted on X, the social media network formerly known as Twitter. “President Trump's decisive and historic victory tonight should move our Party closer to uniting so we can achieve the ultimate victory in November.”
“I am calling on every other candidate - all of whom have no chance to win - to drop out so we can unify and immediately rally behind President Trump so that we can focus 100% of our resources on defeating Joe Biden to Save America,” House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik of New York said in a statement.
Earlier in the day, Trump predicted a "tremendous night" for his campaign as he left his hotel in Des Moines. He and his allies have expressed their desire to run up the score and beat Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, his two closest competitors, by dozens of percentage points. The largest victory in a competitive Iowa caucus was roughly 12 percentage points.
With the National Weather Service warning of “life threatening wind chills” in the -30s, how many Iowans would turn out and who they would support remained open questions entering Monday. But top Iowa pollster J. Ann Selzer said on Monday prior to results coming in that Trump may benefit from having the most enthusiastic supporters.
“I think the enthusiasm factor can be very telling and there is a dramatic difference,” Selzer said on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal,” noting 49% of Trump supporters said they were extremely enthusiastic. According to her poll, another 39% said they were very enthusiastic and zero percent said they were not enthusiastic.
“For Ron DeSantis supporters, it is 23% [who are extremely enthusiastic], so it’s not even half what Donald Trump gets,” Selzer continued. “For Nikki Haley, I think very importantly, it is only 9%. These are people who choose her as a first choice and yet it is only 9% who say they are extremely enthusiastic.”
Trump and his allies are hoping for a dominating victory to send the message to his opponents that they need to get out of the race and get behind his candidacy for the fight against Biden.
“Even if you're going to win, you want to win by a big margin. You want to end the Republican primaries here. You want to end it in Iowa,” the former president’s sons, Eric Trump, told a local news network on Monday.
The New Hampshire primary is the next contest in the nomination process, with voters there heading to the polls on Tuesday, Jan. 23.
“So now it’s off to New Hampshire,” Trump said. “The people are great. But you know, the truth is the people in our country are great. They're all great. We love Iowa. But they're all great.”
Outside of politics, Trump is reportedly expected to be in court on Tuesday in New York to attend the start of a second defamation trial brought by columnist E. Jean Carroll. He's then expected to travel to New Hampshire for a rally.