Monday night’s Iowa Caucuses went over mostly as expected, but still resulted in a historic vote that not only cemented a certain profile of the electorate within the Republican Party, but also took out two contenders for the nomination.
Former President Donald Trump (R-FL) expectedly won the contest by a wide margin, as indicated by pre-election polling. However, pundits and television anchors were still stunned to be able to project a winner as soon as the polls closed, a somewhat unusual occurrence for such a high-stakes race with several candidates on the ballot.
Thousands of Iowans braved hazardous driving conditions and negative double-digit temperatures to vote; the quarter-century-low turnout is attributed mostly to the weather.
Despite this, voters still handed Trump a commanding win. Not only did he capture a thirty-point win, but he smashed the record for margin of victory in the Iowa Republican Caucuses since Bob Dole’s (R-KS) win in 1988.
Trump also not only managed to collect a majority of the vote – a difficult feat when three or more candidates are on the ballot (Monday’s caucuses featured eight) – but he became the first Republican in history to do so and the third person of either party to do so – behind Tom Harkin (D-IA) in 1992 and Al Gore (D-TN) in 2000.
Iowa, a state Republicans had lost in every election since 1988 to 2012, except in 2004, has lurched to the right in the Trump era. His near-ten-point win in 2016 demonstrated the resonance of populist message with an ancestrally populist state that still retains its agrarian, small-town, evangelical profile. Trump produced a near-identical margin in the state in 2020, showing that despite losing the election, Iowa remained firm in their newfound political identity.
Trump slightly underperformed polling aggregates, garnering 51% of the vote – 56,260 votes – instead of the 52.5% averaged estimate. However, enthusiasm for the former president could hardly be considered anemic, as he outperformed his 2016 performance in almost all key demographics, except for Iowa Republicans who consider themselves “moderates.” Trump also struggled slightly among suburban voters, roughly a third of whom opted for him in the caucuses.
Trump carried all but one of Iowa’s ninety-nine counties. Johnson County, home to the University of Iowa, went to Haley by just a single vote: 1,271 to Trump’s 1,270.
Trump lost the 2016 Iowa Caucuses to Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) in what was considered an upset, but would catapult himself to the front with a routing win in the New Hampshire Primary. Trump now attempts to defy history, as non-incumbent Republicans who have won the Iowa Caucuses rarely go on to secure the nomination, with the last GOP nominee to do so being George W. Bush (R-TX) in 2000.
Despite the historically large win, Trump’s win nonetheless arrived without much fanfare or surprise. The real contest from the start was for second place, one fought between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former United Nations Ambassador and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. Although Haley saw some positive momentum towards the end, DeSantis managed to narrowly take second place with 21.2% and 23,420 votes to Haley’s 19.1% and 21,085 votes.
While DeSantis can boast second place and Haley can find some success in a close finish, neither can truly revel in the fact at just how far behind Trump they placed.
Biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy (R-OH) did not pull off the upset for which he’s long been expecting, coming in fourth place with just 7.7% of the vote.
Trump’s apparent stronghold on GOP voters has not only helped define sects within the party, but also claimed two casualties within the field: Ramaswamy and former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson. Hutchinson only fetched 191 votes for a paltry 0.2% of the statewide vote.
Ramaswamy suspended his campaign the night of the caucuses and endorsed Trump, stating that “from the beginning, there were two ‘America First’ candidates in the field,” meaning himself and Trump.
Hutchinson dropped out Tuesday morning; as of press time, he has made no endorsement. The race now includes the three frontrunners, as well as Texas businessman and pastor Ryan Binkley, who despite only garnering 0.7% of the vote in Iowa, will continue on to New Hampshire for Monday’s primary.
North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum suspended his campaign in December, but endorsed Trump on the eve of the Iowa Caucuses. Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie suspended his campaign two weeks before New Hampshire, where he was banking on a strong showing.
One state’s primary result is not enough with which to extrapolate data for the rest of the primary season, and certainly not the general election. The crowd now heads to New Hampshire, where the first-in-the-nation primary will test the candidates’ strengths among moderate voters. Haley has her sights set on a decent finish, or possibly a win in the Granite State, but a Trump win here would likely mean an even tougher path forward for the rest of the pack.
In addition to proposing her budget for the 2025 fiscal year, Governor Kathy Hochul (D) announced her plans for a Friday trip to Washington, D.C., to plead for a “stronger border.”
The state and New York City have been gripped by the ongoing migrant crisis, which has put a strain on resources, shelters, and social services.
New York continues to carry the burden of sheltering more than 69,000 migrants,” said Hochul. “Since day one, I have said this is ultimately the responsibility of the federal government to address this crisis. Congress, the House of Representatives in particular and the White House, must remain at the negotiating table until they restore the rule of law at our border, fix our asylum system, and provide relief to states like New York, who have been shouldering this burden for far too long…But until we see a change in federal policy that slows the flow of new arrivals, we’re going to be swimming against the tide.”
New York City is a declared sanctuary city, a city in which illegal immigrants are effectively protected from federal immigration laws and cannot be deported or prosecuted.
“We also know that companies won’t do business in New York if there are thousands of people sleeping on the streets, where the quality of life is dramatically impacted, because the city is forced to cut essential services,” Hochul continued.”We’re going to continue focusing on security work authorizations and put the migrants and asylum workers to work…Put them to work, that’s exactly what they came here for.”
Congressman Nick LaLota (R, NY-01) has sponsored the bipartisan Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) on the Beat Grant Program Reauthorization and Parity Act with Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (D, VA-07) to reauthorize law enforcement grants to aid the hiring of new officers and support efforts to improve community policing and training.
“As a dedicated advocate for public safety, community well-being, and our men and women in blue, I am proud to introduce bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the COPS on Beat Grants Program,” said LaLota. “Our legislation reflects a commitment to fostering stronger relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve and to public safety. By providing crucial resources and support through the COPS program, we empower our officers to proactively engage with residents, address local concerns, serve and protect the people, and build trust. This reauthorization underscores an unwavering belief in the importance of ensuring our law enforcement agencies have the tools they need to keep our neighborhoods safe and secure.”
LaLota also voted in favor of the Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act, which would prevent the Department of Justice from “allowing defendants to enter quid-pro-quo agreements that entail donations to political groups in exchange for reduced fines and tax deductions. This legislation ensures settlement funds go only to the victims, injured parties in the dispute, or the Treasury.”
Legal settlements involving the federal government should not go to partisan groups of any party. Funneling dollars to political entities is a slap in the face to the American taxpayers,” said LaLota. “Every penny from a federal settlement should go to defendants or the Treasury to pay down our trillions in national debt. The American people deserve 100% accountability and transparency from their government and the Settlement Slush Funds Act is a huge step in the right direction.”
The bill narrowly passed in the House, with 211 in favor and 197 against. No Republicans voted against the bill and no Democrats voted for it. Eight Republicans and sixteen Democrats, including House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D, NY-08), sat out the vote.