In the final frantic day of campaigning before the Republican caucuses in Iowa, former President Donald Trump is leading in polls with 48% of likely primary voters, according to the Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom poll. Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis are vying for second place with 20% and 16%, respectively.

The extremely cold weather, with winds reaching up to 40 degrees below zero, led Republicans to resort to Zoom calls and other similar resources, increasing uncertainty in a campaign that appeared to favor Trump. Concerns about voter turnout arise amid adverse weather conditions, forcing candidates to adapt their strategies at the last minute.

DeSantis’ campaign, for its part, has taken advantage of the uncertainty surrounding the weather to ensure that its election organization is “perfectly designed for anticipated conditions.” The strategy seeks to alleviate any discontent among DeSantis supporters regarding the poll results.

Nikki, in her campaign, highlighted her improving poll numbers and urged voters to express a desire for a “new generation of conservative leadership.” She stated, “Despite the cold weather, on Monday, Iowans will have the first opportunity in the country to express their wish with Nikki Haley.”

The adverse weather conditions also raise questions about how the weather will affect voter turnout in the Republican primary in Iowa, which is expected to be the coldest on record and the coldest January day in at least five years.

The poll found that Trump has an enthusiastic base, with nearly 90% of likely voters who support him saying they are extremely or very enthusiastic about voting for him. This contrasts with his closest rivals, with 62% of DeSantis supporters and just 39% of Haley supporters showing the same level of enthusiasm.

The candidates stepped up their agendas on the final day of campaigning, with DeSantis making four stops and Haley seeking to win over less conservative voters at Iowa State University. Meanwhile, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, who registered 8% in the poll, faces the challenging task of responding to Trump’s belated attacks.

Second place

However, the focus is not just on victory, but on the margin of victory and who wins second place, as this will have significant implications for expectations for the upcoming New Hampshire primary.

Expectations play a crucial role in the primaries, especially when there are just 10 days until voting in New Hampshire. How Iowa performs in the final polls can heavily influence media coverage and voter perceptions.

The Granite State poll shows a tight race between Trump and Haley, who are tied after relocating supporters of former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Second place in Iowa could directly impact expectations in New Hampshire.

Past stories from primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire highlight the importance of performance and margin of victory. Candidates who exceeded expectations or outperformed in Iowa often received a wave of positive media coverage, influencing the results in New Hampshire.

Former Gov. Nikki Haley, while not as far behind in the New Hampshire polls as historic candidates, could still benefit from an outperformance in Iowa. A win or a strong second-place finish would indicate that Trump is not invincible, giving Haley a chance to solidify her support in her home state of South Carolina.

On the other hand, for Governor Ron DeSantis, second place in Iowa would be a real reason to stay in the race. If he comes in third, he will face a difficult road ahead considering his poll positioning in New Hampshire and other states.

The benchmark for Trump is George W. Bush’s victory in 2000, who won Iowa but his smaller-than-expected margin hurt him in New Hampshire. National polls also play a crucial role, and Trump leads by 50 points at this point, which could help mitigate a defeat in New Hampshire if it occurs.

The outcome of the Iowa primaries could shape the political landscape and influence the trajectory of Republican candidates. With pressure on Trump’s rivals to exceed expectations, Monday night will be decisive in setting the tone of the Republican presidential race.


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