Iowa Republicans gathered at their precincts Monday night to choose their nominee for U.S. president. They are the first American voters to get to decide who they want to face likely Democratic nominee President Joe Biden in November.
Temperatures remain below zero as supporters of former President Donald Trump, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and other challengers make their arguments in an attempt to persuade voters to join their respective sides. Caucusing began at 7 p.m. central (local) time.
Unlike a standard primary election where voters simply go to the polls and cast their ballots for the candidate of their choice (or in more recent years, mail in their ballots), voters at a caucus show up in person and listen to supporters lobby for candidates before choosing sides.
Trump is the favorite to win this initial stop in the Republican primary season.
RealClearPolitics Poll Average of major polls across the country shows Trump with more than 52% support in The Hawkeye State. His closest challenger there is Haley, who garners 18.2% support, a nearly 34% percentage point gap between the No. 1 and No. 2 candidates in the state. DeSantis is an even more distant third with 15.6% support.
New Hampshire has the first primary on Tuesday of next week. Trump also holds a significant lead in polling there with 43.5% support, according to RealClear, but Haley has closed the gap down to about 14 percentage points with 29.3% support.
Nevada follows with a Feb. 8 caucus, followed by primaries on Feb. 24 in South Carolina and Feb. 27 in Michigan (though not all delegates will be awarded on this date in Michigan; more than half will be awarded at the state convention March 2); and caucuses in Idaho March 2 and North Dakota March 4.
The successful candidate must secure at least 1,215 of 2,429 total delegates to secure the nomination; 40 delegates are up for grabs in Iowa Monday night.
On Super Tuesday, March 5, Republican voters from 15 states will select the candidate of their choice: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia.
Trump could have the nomination all but locked up by then.
In the most recent The Center Square Voters’ Voice poll, Trump has taken a head-to-head lead over Biden as well.