While Iowa is not a clear nomination indicator, former President Trump’s landslide victory reinforces his strength among GOP voters. Voters caucused around the economy and immigration as the priority issues. Organizations should be prepared to address distrust in institutions that will continue to appear in campaign ads and messaging this primary season.
Amid a once in a decade snowstorm, about 110,000 Iowans—made up of mostly Republican voters—marked the start of the Republican Party’s nomination process for president. The Iowa Republican Caucus is traditionally an important momentum builder leading into the early primary states and, ultimately, the party conventions in the summer.
Last night, with a significant lead called by the Associated Press, former President Donald Trump won the Iowa Caucus capturing 51% of the votes or 98 out of 99 counties.
What Does this Mean?
- The Iowa Republican Party is still the party of Trump. The former President won the Iowa Caucus for the first time in 2024, after a slim presence in the state, rejecting the more intimate traditions of campaigning in the state. His status as a presumptive incumbent and his messaging on the economy played a key role in Trump’s Iowa win.
- Credibility and trust in institutions will be a key storyline this election cycle. Credibility and trust in institutions will be a key storyline this election cycle. Governor DeSantis accused the media of election interference after the Associated Press called the Iowa Caucuses for President Trump. Candidates’ distrust in the democratic process and institutions is a continuation of a larger trend we’ve seen since 2020 of candidates driving distrust. Businesses may again play a key role in bolstering credibility in the American democratic system.
- The Iowa Primary points to a race focused on national issues. Traditionally, Iowa primaries focus on local issues, but this year caucus participants focused on issues of national importance: the economy, immigration, foreign policy, and abortion.
A Cold Reception in Iowa
- Due to the winter weather, only about 110,000 Iowans caucused in 2024, significantly lower than the estimated 187,000 who participated in 2020.
- Primary samples are self-selecting—more passionate supporters of the candidate or party turnout. Historically, winning Iowa is not always an indicator of who will win the party—in this case Republican—nomination.
- Republicans Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum and Democrat Pete Buttigieg have won in Iowa, but all ended up missing out on their party’s nomination. Trump’s margins were large, most likely bolstered by his status as the presumptive incumbent.
Former UN Ambassador and Governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley will head to the Granite State with the potential to slow Trump’s Iowa momentum. DeSantis will skip New Hampshire and head straight to South Carolina. Both candidates will hope to gain enough traction to sweep Super Tuesday and get closer to the 1,215 delegates needed to secure the nomination.
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This content offers a high-level synopsis of the day’s events. It is intended to provide information only, not opinion, and it is not representative of any specific Edelman work.