By
Burroughs
|
January 10, 2024

Massive Snowstorm Threatens to Interrupt Iowa Republican Primary

The final push of GOP primary candidates ahead of the 2024 Iowa caucuses is being hampered by near-blizzard conditions, leading campaigns to cancel events and alter plans.

This development holds significance as the forecasted frigid weather next week may also impact voter turnout on caucus day, according to local analysts.

Iowa is currently under a winter storm warning, anticipating 6–12 inches of snow in its central and southeastern regions through Tuesday, as per the National Weather Service.

The approaching caucuses coincide with an unusually active period of winter weather, featuring a polar vortex with single-digit daytime temperatures and below-zero overnight lows expected on caucus day.

Several campaigns, including those of former UN ambassador Nikki Haley and former President Trump, have already canceled Iowa events due to weather and travel challenges.

In response to the weather conditions, Vivek Ramaswamy has opted for ground transportation instead of his usual private plane rides. Tuesday's forecast includes blowing snow with gusty winds, potentially reducing visibility.

Looking ahead to next week, the continued cold spell may adversely affect caucus turnout, particularly among Trump supporters who might assume his lead.

Local Democratic political consultant Jeff Link suggests that poor weather could particularly impact older Iowans, potentially affecting Trump more, as his supporters tend to skew older compared to those of Haley and Ron DeSantis.

Iowa GOP Chairman Jeff Kaufmann stated during a press briefing on Monday following the state party's annual legislative breakfast that he anticipates a "robust" turnout at the caucuses. However, he acknowledged that the potential for severe wintry conditions might impede participation.

In the 2016 caucuses, a record-breaking turnout occurred with over 186,000 votes cast, surpassing the previous records of 121,000 in 2012 and 119,000 in 2008.

While Iowa's winter caucuses have a history of weather disruptions, political science professor Steffen Schmidt notes that weather remains a significant factor in caucus turnout, stating that "Weather is the No. 1 caucus turnout problem."

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