Analysis

AuthorByLabel Domenico Montanaro

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January 15, 2024 at 8:18 AM EST
Tannen Maury
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AFP via Getty Images

Supporters hold signs in front of TV cameras as they await Donald Trump’s arrival during a “Commit to Caucus” rally in Clinton, Iowa, on Jan. 6.

During former President Donald Trump’s 1,462 days in office, his disapproval rating was above 50% in 1,441 of them, according to FiveThirtyEight’s average of the polls.

That’s 98.6% of his presidency. Trump’s approval rating ranged between 37% and 46%, remarkably consistent and remarkably unpopular. That unpopularity continued into his post-presidency. After the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, Trump’s unfavorability rating hit a high of 58%. It currently stands at 52%, but has had very little variability.

Trump’s unfavorability rating has been in the mid-50s since April 2021 as views settled back after Jan. 6.

Realize what that means: More than half the country dislikes Trump and has disliked him for a very long time.

And yet … Trump is very popular with Republicans — 78% of Republicans on average say they have a favorable rating of him, and there has been almost no variability on this. He hit a low of 75%, within the margin of error, in December 2022 after the midterm elections, when Republican candidates running in Trump’s image underperformed. He hit a high of 84% in September 2021.

In other words, views of Trump — unsurprisingly — are very locked in.

AuthorByLabel Rachel Treisman

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January 15, 2024 at 7:52 AM EST
Scott Olson
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Getty Images

A flag on a snowy garage in Mitchellville, Iowa. The state’s Democrats will meet today for “traditional party business,” but not to cast votes.

The term “Iowa caucus” may conjure up mental images of people gathering in school gymnasiums, forming and reforming groups based on their presidential preferences.

That voting method was a fixture of the Democratic caucus for the last five decades, but won’t be used anymore. The party has drastically reformed its caucus process after the failures of 2020.

Iowa Democrats will still hold party caucuses today, but they won’t involve voting for the president.

Instead, the in-person precinct caucuses (which also start at 7 p.m. local time) will meet to conduct what state Democrats call “traditional party business.”

“We will elect unbound delegates and alternate delegates to county conventions, elect county central committee members and discuss platform resolutions that can be shared at county conventions,” they said.

Democrats will cast their vote by mail using a presidential preference card, which they can request by mail or online through Feb. 19.

The options on the ballot? President Biden, Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips, author Marianne Williamson and “uncommitted.”

Cards were mailed out on Friday, and results will be released on March 5 (16 states or territories will vote that same day, known as Super Tuesday).

It’s a significant change in the process and a demotion in the calendar. The reform is a direct result of the chaotic Democratic caucus of 2020, which failed to produce a clear winner. The smartphone app that the party purchased for precincts to report their winners malfunctioned, as did a backup hotline system.

Even before that debacle, however, a growing chorus of critics had been casting doubt on Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status, arguing that its overwhelmingly white population isn’t reflective of the U.S. or the growing diversity of the Democratic Party.

AuthorByLabel Clay Masters, Minnesota Public Radio

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January 15, 2024 at 7:34 AM EST
Jim Watson
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AFP via Getty Images

A supporter of Donald Trump braves the below-zero temperatures to attend a “commit to caucus rally” in Indianola, Iowa, on Sunday.

It’s set to be the coldest Iowa caucus on record.

The state is out of a blizzard warning that gripped pretty much all of Iowa over a few days, but now bitter cold has settled in. By the time the in-person Republican caucuses begin at 7 p.m. local time, temperatures are expected to be below zero with wind chills way below zero. It’s dangerous cold.

The weather has affected campaigning, with events canceled or moved online instead. And it’s likely to affect caucus night turnout, though it’s unclear who might benefit.

The candidates have made the cold part of their messaging in the race’s final stretch.

Here’s Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaking to cheering volunteers at the Iowa headquarters of a super PAC supporting him: “They can throw a blizzard at us and we are going to fight! They can throw wind chill at us and we are going to fight!”

Just In

AuthorByLabel Rachel Treisman

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January 15, 2024 at 7:10 AM EST
Anna Moneymaker
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Getty Images

Steam from the MidAmerican Energy plant rises during sunset on Sunday in Sergeant Bluff, Iowa.

NPR journalists will be bringing you caucus news, results and analysis — both online and on the air — well into the evening. Live radio special coverage will start at 8 p.m. ET, when the caucuses officially kick off.

Here’s how you can follow along, and where to check back for updates:

Refresh this live blog for all the latest developments and results, as well as context and expert analysis.
Check out Iowa Public Radio’s website for more.
Stream NPR’s live audio coverage on many public radio stations as well asthe NPR app.
Subscribe to The NPR Politics Podcast for a post-caucus recap after live coverage ends.
Tune into Morning Edition and come back to NPR.org tomorrow morning for more on what the results mean and what might happen next.

The More You Know

AuthorByLabel Domenico Montanaro

Jeongyoon Han

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January 15, 2024 at 6:57 AM EST
Chip Somodevilla
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Getty Images

Campaign signs line the snowy road in front of Drake University, where CNN hosted a presidential debate on Jan. 10, in Des Moines, Iowa.

Here are the basics about the process, where they will happen and when they start:

What time do the caucuses take place?

They begin at 7 p.m. CT (8 p.m. ET) and will last roughly an hour. Caucusgoers write down their candidate of choice. In past years, depending on the size of the caucus, this could have been done through a show of hands. Votes are then tallied in front of caucus attendees and campaign representatives to be submitted to the state party.

Who can vote?

Only registered Republicans can vote, but few of them do. The GOP turnout record is 186,000, set in 2016. That’s only about 25% of total registered Republicans in the state. But the sub-zero temperatures expected tonight could greatly affect the numbers. The freezing temperatures follow multiple snowstorms that blew through the state recently.

Where do the caucuses happen?

They’ll take place in 1,657 precinct locations across all 99 counties in the state, in spaces including libraries, churches and school gymnasiums.

The caucuses will determine how 40 delegates are selected for the party’s national convention later this summer. Iowa will receive 2% of the total party delegates, and those delegates will be allocated proportionally.

What about Iowa Democrats?

Democrats will also be caucusing, but they won’t cast votes for president at them this year. Instead, they’ll send mail-in ballots over the next few weeks, which the party will tally up by March 5 — releasing the state’s primary results well after South Carolina’s race in February. The reshuffling in the Democratic National Convention nominating calendar comes after calls for a state that is more demographically representative of the country to go first.

Plus, the race won’t be as competitive since there aren’t any major challenges to President Biden’s bid for reelection.

The More You Know

AuthorByLabel Domenico Montanaro

Jeongyoon Han

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January 15, 2024 at 6:53 AM EST
Jon Cherry
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Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Iowa caucus will be the first test of Donald Trump’s hold on the GOP base.

Republicans in the Hawkeye State convene Monday on a potentiallyrecord-breaking chilly night — which will likely affect turnout — to commence the presidential contest for 2024.

The caucuses are the first chance for Republican voters to weigh in on who they want to be their nominee. It will be the first test of Donald Trump’s hold on the GOP base. He leads overwhelmingly in polls for Iowa and nationally, as he faces 91 criminal and civil felony charges — including for actions he took as president related to the Jan. 6 insurrection.

The stakes are high. Here’s what to watch out for:

The margin of victory: Trump has been leading in the polls by historic margins in Iowa, currently an average of 34 points. The largest win ever in the GOP Iowa caucuses was 12.8 points. What will be Trump’s margin of victory, if he wins? 

The order of finish: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been in second place for the entirety of this campaign, but former Trump U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley has now crept up past DeSantis narrowly, within the margin of error. That correlates with Haley and groups supporting her bypassing DeSantis and allies in their ad spending in Iowa. DeSantis needs to finish second and outperform where he’s been polling to have a rationale to continue his campaign.

The weather: With a forecast set for a sub-zero high, the inclement weather will likely greatly affect turnout. Trump is relying on first-time caucusgoers, as he did in 2016 when he lost Iowa narrowly. He has a much better ground game in Iowa this time around, but there’s only so much you can do in these kinds of conditions.