Trump's margin of victory in Iowa GOP caucuses smashed previous record

Analyzing Trump's landslide win in Iowa
Analyzing Trump's landslide win in Iowa 04:49

Washington — Former President Donald Trump's margin of victory in Monday's Iowa caucuses smashed the previous record for Republican presidential candidates, underscoring the broad support he attracted in the first contest of the 2024 nominating process.

Trump won the support of 51% of Iowa caucusgoers, a 30-point victory over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who came in second place with 21% of support. Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley won 19% to come in third.

Since the advent of the modern primary process in 1972, the previous record for margin of victory in a competitive GOP race in Iowa was set by Sen. Bob Dole, who beat evangelical heavyweight Pat Robertson by 13 points in the 1988 caucuses. Dole won 37.4% of the straw poll to Robertson's 24.6% and George H.W. Bush's 18.6%. Dole bowed out of the race in March of that year, and George H.W. Bush became the Republican nominee, so an easy victory in the Iowa caucuses doesn't necessarily mean clinching the GOP nomination. In fact, the past three GOP winners in Iowa ended up losing the nomination.

Other Iowa caucuses have been quite close. In 2016, Sen. Ted Cruz beat Trump by just three points. Trump went on to prevail elsewhere, clinch the GOP nomination, and win the presidency. Rick Santorum beat Mitt Romney by just 34 votes out of a total of 121,501 cast in 2012.

Trump's win in Iowa on Monday wasn't a surprise, nor was his margin of victory. Polls leading up to the Iowa caucuses showed he was the clear favorite to win the first state. His wide margin of victory was a reflection of his improved standing with Iowa's largely White, evangelical Republican electorate since 2016.

Trump remains the clear favorite among the Republican base nationally. A CBS News/YouGov poll taken among likely GOP primary voters nationwide last week found 69% would support Trump if the election was held today, compared to 14% for DeSantis and 12% for Haley. And support for Trump among likely GOP primary voters nationwide has only grown in recent months.

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