Republican primary in Iowa The march of Donald J. Trump

The former president gets half of all votes, Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley neutralize each other. It was an almost perfect evening for Trump, but his opponents still have hope.

The United States of America rarely experiences a Donald Trump like this. He speaks calmly and doesn’t insult his challengers – on the contrary, he even praises them. “I want to congratulate Ron and Nikki,” Trump said after his election victory in Iowa’s capital, Des Moines. “You did well.” He had dealt violently against both of them for months. He called DeSantis “Ron DeSanctimonious,” a hypocrite. Haley had to hear that she had a “sparrow brain.” Now he describes both of them as “very smart people.”

More than half of Republicans who voted in Iowa’s first Republican primary voted for Donald Trump. Just one day before the election in Iowa, the former president boasted at a rally that “Make America Great Again” Republicans now make up 95 percent of the party. Although he is not an absolutist autocrat, he does have an absolute majority of Republicans behind him. He keeps his competitors at bay by around 30 percentage points; it is Donald Trump’s march through Iowa.

With his conciliatory words he wants to make it clear: it’s over, his competitors should get out so that the party can rally behind him. But it’s not that far yet.

For a long time, Nikki Haley thought she had little chance in conservative Iowa because she tended to appeal to more moderate Republicans. Most recently, polls had clearly placed the former UN ambassador in second place. Now she has to settle for third place behind Ron DeSantis. She goes into the next area code without the tailwind she was hoping for.

In New Hampshire, where the election is next Monday, Haley is hoping for a victory. Last week, the news channel CNN published a poll that showed Trump would get 39 percent there, Haley 32 percent. At this point, Chris Christie was still in the race, having focused his campaign entirely on preventing Trump. He has since ended his campaign and Haley now wants to convince as many “Never Trumpers” as possible to support her.

Ron DeSantis comes in second place and still has no chance

It’s not that easy for the former governor of South Carolina. During her appearances, she always says that Trump was the right president at the right time. In terms of content, he did a good job, but he attracted chaos. Haley does not want to completely break with the ex-president, for whom she worked, and at the same time be seen as an alternative to him. This two-track approach could be interpreted as indecision.

Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy came fourth in Iowa and ended his campaign on election night. Most of his voters are likely to switch to Trump; programmatically, the two hardly differ. That should make a Haley victory in New Hampshire more difficult. And even if she wins there, it is unclear what could happen next for her. In Nevada, where the third primary is taking place, Trump is expected to win in a landslide. And in South Carolina, Haley’s home state, Trump is also far ahead.

Things look even worse for Ron DeSantis. Despite his second place, the fight for the presidency is likely to be over in a few weeks at the latest. He had focused his entire candidacy on winning Iowa. So far he has done little or no campaigning in other states. In New Hampshire it is far behind, only reaching single digits. DeSantis lacks a “path to victory,” as American pollsters put it, a realistic scenario of how he can win.

Election night in Iowa is a great triumph for Donald Trump. But he also has reason to worry. At the polling stations, pollsters asked voters whether they thought Trump would be suitable as president if he were convicted in a criminal trial. Around two thirds said they would stick with Trump even if he were convicted, while a third said no.

Trump’s chances in the primary election will be decided in court

The numbers must be viewed with some caution because they are limited to Iowa and are not representative. But this is a dangerous scenario for the ex-president if a significant part of his base turns away from him in the event of a conviction. For Trump, this shows once again that his chances of returning to the White House depend largely on what happens in the courtrooms.

After his speech in Iowa, Trump flew to New York. There he wants to take part in a libel trial initiated by Jean Carroll on Tuesday. The writer is demanding at least ten million dollars from the ex-president. The now 77-year-old was convicted of sexual assault in May 2023. The author had accused him of raping her in a dressing room in a New York luxury department store in the mid-1990s. Afterwards he repeatedly insulted her and accused her of lying.

After the day of the trial, Trump wants to fly to New Hampshire in the evening and campaign. He might find unkind words for Haley and DeSantis again.