Trump wins Iowa caucuses, DeSantis edges out Haley for second place

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Trump wins Iowa caucuses, DeSantis edges out Haley for second place

Former President Donald Trump scored a record-setting win in the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 15 with his rivals languishing far behind, a victory that seemed to affirm his grip on the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

In what was the lowest-turnout caucus in a quarter-century, participants endured life-threatening cold and dangerous driving conditions to meet in hundreds of schools, churches, and community centers across the state. But those who ventured out delivered a roughly 30-point win for Mr. Trump that smashed the record for a contested Iowa Republican caucus with a margin of victory exceeding Bob Dole’s nearly 13-percentage-point victory in 1988.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis finished a distant second, just ahead of former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley.

The results left Mr. Trump with a tighter grip on the GOP nomination, though it could take several more months for anyone to formally become the party’s standard bearer. The magnitude of Mr. Trump’s victory, however, posed significant questions for both Mr. DeSantis and Ms. Haley. Neither candidate appeared poised to exit the race, though they leave Iowa struggling to make much progress in trying to become Mr. Trump’s strongest challenger.

Having repeatedly vowed vengeance against his political opponents in recent months, Mr. Trump offered a message of unity in his victory speech.

“We want to come together, whether it’s Republican or Democrat or liberal or conservative,” he said. “We’re going to come together. It’s going to happen soon.”

The GOP contest moves swiftly to New Hampshire, which will hold the first-in-the-nation primary on Jan. 23. A shrinking field will compete there after conservative entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy suspended his campaign after a disappointing fourth-place finish and endorsed Mr. Trump.

Mr. DeSantis heads to South Carolina on Jan. 16, a conservative stronghold where the Feb. 24 contest could prove pivotal. He will head later in the day to New Hampshire.

“Because of your support, in spite of all of what they threw at us, we got our ticket punched out of Iowa,” Mr. DeSantis told supporters.

Ms. Haley plans to compete vigorously in New Hampshire, where she hopes to be more successful with the state’s independent voters.

“When you look at how well we’re doing in New Hampshire and in South Carolina and beyond, I can safely say tonight Iowa made this Republican primary a two-person race,” she said.

In a preview of a remarkable balancing act Mr. Trump may have to manage in the months ahead, he was expected to be in court in New York Jan. 16. 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 Mr. Trump for sex abuse and defamation. It’s just one of multiple legal challenges facing the former president.

After visiting the court, Mr. Trump will fly to New Hampshire to hold a rally the evening of Jan. 16.

Mr. Trump has made courtroom visits a part of his campaign – heading to court voluntarily twice last week while his opponents campaigned in Iowa – in a strategy designed to portray him as a victim of a politicized legal system. Among Republican voters, at least, the approach is working.

Mr. Trump showed significant strength among Iowa’s 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 they identify with Mr. Trump’s “Make America Great Again” movement.

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

Iowa has been 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 nominee.

This story was reported by the The Associated Press. Steve Peoples reported from Washington. Thomas Beaumont reported from Indianola, Iowa, and Hannah Fingerhut reported from Des Moines, Iowa. AP writers Jill Colvin in Des Moines, Iowa, Meg Kinnard in Clive, Iowa, Adriana Gomez Licon in Des Moines, Iowa, and Bill Barrow in Atlanta contributed to this report.

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