No surprise: Donald Trump wins Iowa

Former President Donald Trump took his first major step towards the 2024 Republican nomination Monday night with a decisive victory in the Iowa caucuses.

Trump was projected as the winner by the Associated Press, CNN and Fox News a little after 8:30 p.m. EST. With over 30 percent of the votes counted, former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis were locked in a battle for second place with tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy a distant fourth.

Polls had long predicted a easy win for Trump in the first-in-the-nation caucuses in the Hawkeye State. The results came in so early that his watch party hadn't yet started when he was projected as the winner.

“I’d appreciate your vote. I think I deserve it,” Trump said at a caucus site in Clive on Monday night.

Trump's victory confirms what polls have foreshadowed for months - that the 91 criminal indictments he faces and the near-constant legal hearings that have interrupted his campaign schedule appear to have only increased the devotion of his followers.

The Iowa blowout also vindicates the Trump campaign's strategy of using the candidate himself sparingly in the state but devoting significant resources to building a first-class field operation - something Trump did not have in 2016, when he lost to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Trump went on to win the remaining early states and win the GOP nomination that year. In presidential primaries, momentum from early state wins is more crucial than delegates, which are technically needed to become a party nomination at the convention but are usually symbolic by that point. A non-incumbent candidate has never won all the early states and, considering Trump’s leads in all the primary polls of every state and the nation, a big win in Iowa could signal the start of a domino effect of wins that blows out the competition.

Trump’s independent super PAC took to the social media platform X on Monday night, posting a November video clip of Iowa evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats, who endorsed DeSantis and said that Trump could become unstoppable with an Iowa victory.

“If President Trump wins Iowa here, I think it's going to be awfully hard to make the case that you can beat President Trump and he's going to be your eventual nominee," Vander Plaats said.

Trump now heads to New Hampshire, where he faces what could be his only real potential stumbling block in a glide path to the nomination - polls that show Haley within striking distance in next week's primary.

The Iowa momentum will fuel what will all-but-certainly be an all-out air war against Haley over the next week in New Hampshire. And even if Haley should win an upset victory, polls have shown Trump with a massive lead in her home state of South Carolina and the former United Nations ambassador has little organizational strength in the states that come next.

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

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