It was a night to remember for Donald Trump. On Monday, the former president won the contested Iowa Caucuses by the largest margin in GOP history.
Trump’s dominating performance, winning a majority of the vote and taking 98 of Iowa’s 99 counties, shows that it may be tough sledding for Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis.
Vivek Ramaswamy, who finished fourth, joined Trump on stage in Iowa and, unsurprisingly, endorsed the former president.
NBC News discussed how the results in Iowa were especially helpful to the former president.
In the short term, the former president won a bonus on top of his commanding first-place finish: Because his two leading rivals finished so close to each other for runner-up in Iowa, the war between Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley promises to continue into New Hampshire and beyond.
DeSantis signaled his intention to stick it out earlier by planning a visit Tuesday to South Carolina — which holds its primary more than a month from now. His second-place Iowa finish will only reinforce that decision, giving his team and allies an argument to raise more money. But the margin was too close for comfort or joy.
Haley, who had less riding on her performance in Iowa, missed a chance to knock DeSantis out. Still, she is turning to much friendlier terrain in New Hampshire, where some polling shows her within shouting distance of Trump.
But the potential seeds of destruction for each of Trump’s opponents were planted beneath the ice-covered cornfields of this state. They are among the four takeaways from what may be the last first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses.
While DeSantis aimed his sights on South Carolina, Nikki Haley, despite coming in third, said that the Iowa results showed that the GOP primary has become a contest between her and Trump.
During her speech in Iowa, the former UN ambassador said, “I was at 2% in the polls. But tonight Iowa did what Iowa always does so well. The pundits will analyze the results from every angle. We get that. But when you look at how we’re doing in New Hampshire, in South Carolina and beyond, I can safely say tonight, Iowa made this Republican primary a two-person race.”
Haley has also announced that she is done debating Ron DeSantis. She “said in a statement Tuesday that Trump, who cruised to victory in Monday’s Iowa caucuses, needs to stop ‘hiding’ after he has skipped all five of the GOP primary debates so far.
“We’ve had five great debates in this campaign,” The Hill wrote. “Unfortunately, Donald Trump has ducked all of them. He has nowhere left to hide. The next debate I do will either be with Donald Trump or with Joe Biden. I look forward to it.”
The primary race now moves to New Hampshire, a state more suitable to Haley’s coalition, a huge portion of which claimed they would vote for Biden over Trump. A recent poll showed her tied with the former president in the Granite State.