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Trump freezes out competition in Iowa caucuses

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WORLD Radio - Trump freezes out competition in Iowa caucuses

The former president breaks Bob Dole’s 1988 record for margin over rivals


Caucus officials count ballots during the 2024 Iowa Republican caucuses at Franklin Jr. High School in Des Moines, Iowa. Getty Images/Photo by Jim Vondruska/Bloomberg

MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Tuesday the 16th of January, 2024. This is WORLD Radio and we thank you for listening. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. First up on The World and Everything in It: Election season gets real.

Well, here now with more detail on what went down in Iowa last night is WORLD radio news editor, Kent Covington.

KENT COVINGTON: Not only is the election season getting real, the winter season is getting real. It was the coldest caucus night on record in Iowa.

The state faced arctic sub-zero temperatures and wind chills of negative-20 or colder.

Republican Senator Joni Ernst urged Iowans to bundle up, but get out there and vote.

ERNST: Iowans are a hardy people, and there are no snow days when it comes to caucus.

And many Republicans did brave the weather.

RESIDENT: It’s just bitter out there. But the funny thing — we were just in Arizona and came back yesterday afternoon. So we are awakened to something totally … cold! (laughs)

But the heat was on full blast in the many auditoriums hosting the kickoff of the 2024 election season.

AUDIO: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Iowa caucuses!

And thousands of Iowans turned out to support their respective candidates.

One couple attending their first ever caucus in Sioux Center told WORLD they’d be pulling the proverbial lever for Donald Trump.

VOTER: The four years he was in office, he did a really great job. The economy was doing very well …

But another caucus-goer said she was backing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. She said with Trump it’s largely a question of temperament. `

WOMAN: I don’t always like how he calls people names and stuff like that. So DeSantis is more my type of guy.

Nikki Haley supporters were also out in force.

HALEY SUPPORTER: She seems to be the most practical. And I think she really cares about the people doing a good job.

There was some question about how the weather would affect turnout, in turn potentially affecting results. And it does appear many would-be caucus-goers stayed home.

But still, the poll numbers leading up to the caucuses were remarkably accurate. The latest average of polls showed Trump with 53 percent support, Nikki Haley with 19 percent, and Vivek Ramaswamy with 7 percent. All of those numbers were virtually spot on compared to the end results.

Gov. DeSantis enjoyed the closest thing to an upset, outperforming the polls by about 5 points.

DESANTIS: They threw everything but the kitchen sink at us. They spent almost $50 million dollars attacking us. No one’s faced that much all the way just through Iowa. The media was against us. They were writing our obituary months ago.

DeSantis finished with roughly 21 percent support, good for a second place finish. And that’s more than just a moral victory. Iowa is not a winner-takes-all state.

That means Trump does not receive all 40 of the state’s delegates. DeSantis won at least 8 of them. Nikki Haley 7.

Still, it was an impressive victory for Donald Trump. As of early this morning, it appeared he won all 99 counties.

For context, in 2016 he won just 37 counties in the State.

But at a victory speech last night, it sounded a lot like 2016 all over again.

TRUMP: We’re going to drill baby, drill right away. Drill baby, drill. We’re going to seal up the border.

But it was the end of the road for another Republican candidate. Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy pulled the plug on his campaign after finishing with less than 8 percent support in Iowa.

RAMASWAMY: Earlier tonight, I called Donald Trump to tell him that I congratulate him on his victory. And now going forward, he will have my full endorsement.

Ramaswamy was the surprise candidate of the 2024 election cycle. While never reaching double digits in major polls, the political newcomer seemingly came out of nowhere making it to the stage in each of the first four GOP debates.

Donald Trump, Nikki Haley, and Ron DeSantis will be right back on the campaign trail. The next vote is just one week from today when New Hampshire holds its primary.

The polls have that contest looking a little tighter with Trump up about 14 points over second-place Nikki Haley in recent New Hampshire polls.

Haley has won the endorsement of Gov. Chris Sununu who’s predicting an upset victory next week.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kent Covington.

REICHARD: We have a live map to help you keep up with what’s happening in this and the rest of the primaries and caucuses. WORLD’s website has an election center with live updated charts and graphs. You can check it out at wng.org/election2024. We’ve also included a link in today’s program notes.


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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