CNN host Jake Tapper was taken aback when the network called former President Donald Trump’s victory in Iowa on Monday evening, less than an hour after the caucuses began.
It was an astonishingly early call, even for a race that was widely expected to be won by the former president. With 52% of the vote and 36.1% of the count completed, Trump's lead was substantial, with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida trailing in second place with just 20.19%.
Tapper's shock was shared by his colleague Erin Burnett, who noted the irony that Trump's victory was expected and yet, in the unlikely event that he didn't win, it would have been unprecedented. The question now was not whether Trump would win, but by what margin.
According to surveys taken between Jan. 5-14, Trump's lead over the other Republican contenders was overwhelming, with former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley coming in a distant second with just 18.8%, and Governor Ron DeSantis in third with 15.7%. Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy received just 6.8% of the vote in the RealClearPolitics average of surveys.
The fact that Trump was leading in the surveys was no coincidence. His campaign team had been working tirelessly in the lead-up to the Iowa caucuses, with operatives and allies strategically placed at every precinct to make their case to caucus-goers. Trump himself and his sons were also at the ready, speaking at various venues throughout Iowa to rally support and secure Trump's victory.
For the Republican contenders, the results in Iowa would set the tone for the upcoming New Hampshire primary on Jan. 23. Trump's victory in Iowa would undoubtedly boost his momentum and reinforce his standing as the frontrunner for the Republican nomination. On the other hand, any signs of weakness or a significant drop in his lead could potentially give his challengers an opportunity to gain ground in the race.
It was clear to observers that Trump's team was taking nothing for granted, as evidenced by their strong presence at the Iowa caucuses. This showed the level of importance placed on securing a resounding win in Iowa, which could set the tone for the rest of the primary season.
Trump's victory in Iowa also highlighted the continuing strength of his base and the loyalty of his supporters. Despite facing criticism and controversy during his time in office, Trump has managed to maintain a strong base of support within the Republican party. Winning the first-in-the-nation caucuses in Iowa was a clear indication of that support and solidified his position as the Republican frontrunner.
As the results continued to pour in, it became clear that Trump's victory in Iowa was a resounding one. With a substantial lead over his opponents, it was a validation of his campaign strategy and a testament to the strength of his support among Republican voters. The question now was whether his opponents would be able to mount a significant challenge to his lead in the upcoming New Hampshire primary.
In his victory speech, Trump expressed his gratitude to the people of Iowa for their support. He also used the opportunity to deliver a message to his opponents, stating that "they can't compete with what we've achieved."
With such a strong showing in Iowa, it seemed that the path to the Republican nomination was now clear for Trump, and his opponents would have to find a way to catch up quickly if they were to have any chance of stopping his march to the nomination. As the night came to a close, it was evident that Trump had secured a significant victory in Iowa and set the stage for an exciting battle in the upcoming primaries.