2024 Election Begins Tonight in Icy Iowa: First Big Test for Trump’s Quest to Win GOP Nomination

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After months of campaigning and debates, voters in Iowa will finally have their say in the race for the Republican presidential nominee.

GOP candidates are urging their supporters to brave freezing cold and windy weather to vote tonight in the Iowa caucus. 

With former president Donald Trump holding a 28-point lead over his closest rival, the contest is cast as a battle for second place. 

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley is moving up in the polls, overtaking Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. 

Both candidates made a final appeal to Iowans on Sunday. 

“Don’t complain about what happens in a general election if you don’t play in this caucus. It matters,” Haley told a crowd. 

DeSantis urged his supporters to show up. 

“If you are willing to brave the cold for a few hours tomorrow in the Iowa caucus, I will spend the next eight years fighting for you and fighting for this country,” he said. 

Both are hoping for a strong finish this week. 

The Iowa caucuses open the months-long Republican primary process. It will begin at 8 p.m. EST on Monday, January 15th. 

Caucus participants will gather inside more than 1,500 schools, churches, and community centers to debate their options, in some cases for hours, before casting secret ballots.

While Iowa is just the beginning, it acts as a crucial litmus test for presidential candidates competing for their party’s nomination. 

Kyle Kondik, an elections analyst and managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, told NBC the Iowa caucus serves as a more accurate snapshot of the current Republican Party because of the demographic makeup including the inclusion of religious and blue-collar voters.

“There is an old saying that there are ‘three tickets out of Iowa,’ meaning that the traditional kickoff caucus doesn’t necessarily anoint the presidential nominees, but it does serve a purpose in winnowing often-bloated presidential primary fields,” Kondik wrote last week. 

“One could argue that, in the 2024 contest, there have been three tickets into Iowa, and there may not be three tickets out. It is possible that Trump essentially has no real competition and will wipe the floor with his rivals,” he added.

After Iowa, the candidates will turn to the big New Hampshire primary a week from Tuesday. 

Then, the Republican primary shifts to Nevada and South Carolina over the coming weeks before moving into the rest of the country this spring.

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