Republican representatives | Credits: BBC
News Politics

Quiet Iowa caucuses set to kick off Republican presidential nomination

United States: The quadrennial fight has been notably quiet this year, reflecting former President Donald Trump’s overwhelming lead in the race. An arctic blast that plunged the state into subzero temperatures and dumped snow on the closing days of the buildup didn’t help either. 

But there’s a lot to think about going into the caucuses, and after years of speculation and maneuvering about who will confront President Joe Biden in November, we’ll finally have the first results in.

Given Trump’s overwhelming popularity, Iowa appears to be a contest for second place. The real question is whether any of the two Republicans who top the bunch of far-flung also-rans can turn it into a two-person race in the end. To accomplish this, they will most likely need to win at least a silver medal in Iowa.

DeSantis and Haley Vie for a Strong Showing

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis previously talked of winning the state, but he now expects a solid showing. With his campaign organization in disarray and cash running low, he requires a strong finish in a state where movement conservatives would ordinarily be his target constituency.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (left) and Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (right) | Credits: Getty Images

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s technocratic and consensus-building appeal does not appear to be tailored for Iowa, but the caucuses arrive just as she has received more attention and financial support. Her best state may be the next one up, New Hampshire, and a second-place performance in Iowa might put her in a good position when the focus switches to New England. Rarely has so much ridden on a second-place finish in the first nominating state.

Much of the attention leading up to the caucuses has been focused on Trump’s strong showing. The surprise may ultimately be about turnout and who benefits from the terrible winter storm that limited participation.

After all, the caucus is not designed for convenience. Those who participate must travel after dark to one of 1,567 locations, which nearly always require a car. Last week, the National Weather Service issued a warning not to leave their homes if possible as the roads will be slippery, and the windchill will be dozens of degrees below zero, but Iowans are built differently; they are known to survive in these harsh weather conditions.

Furthermore, in races where winners are perceived as predictable, individuals may be less inclined to vote.

On the other hand, Trump’s supporters are very driven to back him. DeSantis may benefit from having a strong organization to transport concerned participants to caucus locations. Conservative voters are eager to begin 2024 – Biden will be easily defeated in November; they are dissatisfied with the state of affairs, support their candidates, and believe.

According to the report by the Associated Press, in 2016, 186,000 Republicans participated in the last contested caucus. That’s a small number to play such a significant influence in selecting the nominee to lead a country of 330 million people. Will we have fewer people this time?

Trump’s chances

The polls have been impressive, but you don’t know how a candidate will perform until the ballots are counted. Will Trump’s polling lead translate into a large victory on Monday? Will there be a surprise?

Trump has visited the state in the last days of the campaign, but he has also shifted his attention in ways that are rare for a politician looking to secure an Iowa victory. He, for example, spent last week attending an appeal hearing in one of his criminal cases and the conclusion of his fraud trial, assuming that would put him in better standing with Republican voters than crisscrossing Iowa. His opponents have criticized him for being absent, although it is uncertain whether this will harm him in the state.

Former US President Donald Trump | Credits: Reuters

The chances of a surprise are usually low—that’s why they’re surprises—but anything is possible in politics, especially with this weather. If Trump underperforms, it may upend a nominating contest that has been the sleepiest in recent memory.

Entrepreneur or President?

Vivek Ramaswamy continues to generate headlines in the biotech industry with his deals and drug development initiatives. He was behind the largest biotechnology IPO of 2016, Myovant Sciences, which raised $218 million and listed its shares on Nasdaq in October. Ramaswamy founded the company in April and signed an agreement with Takeda Pharmaceuticals for a prostate cancer treatment and a female infertility drug and then decided to run for President. 

His aggressive, social media-driven strategy piqued the interest of some Republican supporters, but many looked turned off once he attacked competitors during the debates.

Ramaswamy’s hard-charging manner may not be “Iowa nice,” but neither is Trump’s, and the latter is well ahead. Ramaswamy has traveled throughout Iowa, reaching the campaign milestone of visiting all 99 counties twice.

It’s unclear what Ramaswamy is competing for; he goes out of his way not to oppose Trump while blasting all other candidates in a possible tryout for the frontrunner’s administration. Iowa will help establish whether he has a cause to continue conducting his unconventional campaign.

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