Trump Projected Winner of Iowa Caucus, Bringing Objection From DeSantis Camp

Donald Trump won the Iowa caucuses on Monday, various network and wire outlets projected, seizing a crucial victory that reinforces the former president’s grip on his party at the outset of the GOP’s 2024 nomination fight even as he faces extraordinary legal challenges that could complicate his bid to return to the White House.

The magnitude of Trump’s success is still coming into focus and it was not immediately clear who would emerge as the second-place finisher, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis or former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. Caucus voters endured life-threatening cold and dangerous driving conditions to participate in meetings that unfolded in hundreds of schools, churches and community centers across the state.

The DeSantis campaign released the following statement:  

“It is absolutely outrageous that the media would participate in election interference by calling the race before tens of thousands of Iowans even had a chance to vote. The media is in the tank for Trump and this is the most egregious example yet.”-

The projected results are just the first in what will be a monthslong effort for Trump to secure the GOP nomination a third consecutive time. But the victory sends an unmistakable message to the Republican Party that the nomination is Trump’s to lose and crystalizes the challenge facing his GOP opponents.

Trump was already looking ahead to a potential general election matchup against President Joe Biden as he addressed hundreds of cheering supporters at a caucus site at the Horizon Events Center in Clive, Iowa.

“He is totally destroying our country,” Trump said of Biden.

DeSantis and Haley are Trump’s top rivals, both competing with each other to establish themselves as the top alternative to him. Both are already pivoting their focus, with Haley poised to compete vigorously in New Hampshire, where she hopes to be more successful with the state’s independent voters heading into the Jan. 23 primary. DeSantis is heading to New Hampshire on Tuesday only after a stop in South Carolina, a conservative stronghold where the Feb. 24 contest could prove pivotal.

Trump, meanwhile, was expected to fly to New York Monday night so he could be in court Tuesday as a jury is poised to consider whether he should pay additional damages to a columnist who last year won a $5 million jury award against Trump for sex abuse and defamation.

He will then fly to New Hampshire, the next state in the Republican primary calendar, to hold a rally Tuesday evening.

Iowa is an uneven predictor of who will ultimately lead Republicans into the general election. George W. Bush’s 2000 victory was the last time a Republican candidate won in Iowa and went on to become the party’s standard-bearer.

Trump showed significant strength among urban, small-town and rural communities, according to AP VoteCast. He also performed well with evangelical Christians and those without a college degree. And a majority of caucusgoers said that they identify with Trump’s “Make America Great Again” movement.

One relative weakness for Trump comes in the suburbs, where only about 4 in 10 supported him.

AP VoteCast is a survey of more than 1,500 voters who said they planned to take part in the caucuses. The survey is conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson were also on the ballot in Iowa, as was former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who suspended his campaign last week.

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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