Former President Donald Trump won the first GOP presidential voting contest of 2024 in Iowa on Monday by a wide margin, according to multiple reports.
Despite historically harsh weather conditions, Iowans turned out for Trump, putting him one step closer to the GOP nomination in the 2024 presidential election, according to multiple outlets. Trump is standing at 55% in the polls with former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley at 18.5% and Gov. Ron DeSantis at 17.9%, according to The Associated Press.
Donald J. Trump’s decisive victory in Iowa revealed a new depth to the reservoir of devotion inside his party. For eight years, he has nurtured a relationship with his supporters with little precedent in politics. He validates them, he entertains them, he speaks for them and he uses them for his political and legal advantage.
This connection — a hard-earned bond for some, a cult of personality to others — has unleashed one of the most durable forces in American politics.
Iowa Republicans, following the lead of party officials across the country, rallied behind the former president despite a list of reasons to reject him. Republicans lost control of the presidency, the Senate and the House during his four years in office. He failed to deliver the red wave of victories he promised in the 2022 midterms. He has been charged with 91 felonies in four criminal cases this past year.
And they stayed with him even as they were offered viable alternatives: Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, a popular young governor who embraced Mr. Trump’s policies, and Nikki Haley, one of the Deep South’s first female governors, who credibly promised she could win back voters Mr. Trump drove away.
Yet in the first chance Americans had to cast judgment on Mr. Trump since he tried to overthrow an election, many Iowa Republicans made clear they don’t judge him. They adore him.
“Trump is not a candidate, he’s the leader of a national movement,” said Newt Gingrich, a former House speaker who has advised Mr. Trump. “No one has come to grips with what’s it like to take on the champion of a movement. That’s why even as all these legal issues pile up, it just infuriates his movement and increases their anger unbelievably.”
The risks associated with the kind of unusually strong hold Mr. Trump maintains on the party have already emerged.
“A lot of the people that support Donald Trump really are fed up with democracy, representative democracy, they think that an authoritarian-style government would probably be preferable at this point, in order to save the nation or whatever,” said former Representative Charles Bass, a New Hampshire Republican who previously voted for Mr. Trump, but said he would not do so again. “I don’t think they feel threatened by having somebody who at least has the trappings of being more authoritarian than past presidents.”
Although Mr. Trump’s win was resounding, the Iowa results suggest the party remains deeply divided over his return to power. Roughly half of Iowa Republicans voted for one of Mr. Trump’s rivals, including about 20 percent who backed Mr. DeSantis, who finished in second, with Ms. Haley close behind.