Ann Turner
August 5, 2023

Trump holding lead in Iowa

While former President Donald Trump currently holds his lead in the Iowa caucus contest, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is steadily gaining traction, according to a recent poll.

A survey conducted by the New York Times/Siena College has indicated that Trump would be the victor if the 2024 Iowa Republican caucuses were to take place today. However, his lead in Iowa is not as commanding as his nationwide level of support.

The poll discovered that Trump has the backing of 44% of probable GOP caucus attendees in Iowa, a figure that falls short of his 54% support among likely Republican primary voters across the country. This disparity raises intriguing questions about Trump's standing among Iowa Republicans.

Examining Trump's support base

Interestingly, almost half of Trump's supporters in Iowa (47%) have expressed that they are open to considering other Republican presidential candidates. This willingness to explore other options indicates a potential shift in the political dynamics within the state.

Conversely, a significant 65% of those not supporting Trump have firmly stated they have no intention of backing the former president. This strong opposition underscores the divided sentiments within the Iowa Republican party.

The poll was conducted prior to Trump's indictment on four federal charges related to his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Joe Biden. A significant majority of respondents (76%) viewed Trump's actions as merely exercising his right to contest the election result.

DeSantis: A potential contender?

Trailing Trump in the poll was DeSantis, who secured 20% support among likely Iowa GOP caucus attendees. DeSantis' popularity in Iowa is significant, particularly when compared to his 17% national support.

In a hypothetical one-on-one contest, Trump outpaced DeSantis by 55% to 39% in Iowa. However, the poll also revealed some encouraging signs for DeSantis. He boasted the highest favorability rating in the Republican field in both raw (77%) and net terms (+59).

Iowa voters also perceived DeSantis as more "moral" (57% to 30%) and "likable" (52% to 38%) compared to Trump. These findings suggest that DeSantis' character and public image could be influential factors in the upcoming election.

Trump vs DeSantis: A comparative analysis

Despite DeSantis' positive ratings, voters found Trump more likely to be "able to beat Joe Biden" (49% to 40%), a "strong leader" (62% to 31%), and someone who "gets things done" (65% to 25%). These perceptions of Trump's leadership and effectiveness could be decisive factors in the election.

DeSantis faced challenges against Trump among two key GOP demographics: voters aged 65 and older and non-college-educated whites. Trump also outperformed DeSantis among self-described "very conservative" caucus-goers and white evangelicals.

Despite these obstacles, DeSantis has demonstrated resilience. In May, he launched his presidential campaign in Iowa, backed by substantial funding from his super PAC, Never Back Down.

Pence's uphill battle in Iowa

In stark contrast to DeSantis, the poll results should sound alarm bells for former Vice President Mike Pence.

Pence had the second-lowest raw favorability rating among Iowa Republicans of any candidate (46%) and was one of two with a negative net favorability (-4%).

Interestingly, Pence, an evangelical Christian, has faced rejection from many white evangelicals in the state. This rejection could pose a significant obstacle for Pence's campaign.

Wrapping up

  • Former President Donald Trump is leading in Iowa, but his support is not as robust as his nationwide backing.
  • Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is emerging as a formidable contender, with high favorability ratings and considerable support.
  • Former Vice President Mike Pence is facing challenges in Iowa, with low favorability ratings and rejection from white evangelicals.

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