The Hawkeye state has held a caucus every four years since the 1970s and is one of only nine states that still implement the practice, according to WQUAD8, a local ACB News affiliate. Eligible voters who are registered with the party and over the age of 18 will meet at 7 p.m. Central Time on Jan. 15 in schools, churches and event centers across the state after weeks of aggressive campaigning by Republican candidates.

Candidates on the ballot in Iowa include former president Donald Trump, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, former governor of Arkansas Asa Hutchinson and Texas businessman Ryan Binkley as the 2024 presidential nominee.

A caucus differs from a primary in that voters gather for a shorter, set period at 1,657 precincts and hear from caucus captains, who make speeches on behalf of a particular candidate, according to NPR. Afterward, participants cast a secret ballot and nominate one delegate per precinct, who will then vote on whether to confirm the nominee during the county convention which is typically scheduled during the summer, according to the Des Moines Register.

Previous winners of the Iowa caucus include President Barack Obama in 2008, Rick Santorum in 2012, and Sen. Ted Cruz from Texas in 2016, according to NPR. President Joe Biden is the incumbent for the Democrats in this election cycle and Democratic voters will hold their caucus through mail-in ballots sent out on Jan. 12 through Feb. 19, according to The New York Times.

Trump is currently leading the pack both nationally at an average of 61% and in Iowa at an average of 53%, according to RealClearPolitics. DeSantis and Haley have been vying back and forth for second, hovering just under 20% each in Iowa.

Vivek Ramaswamy is currently at an average of 6% in Iowa, according to RealClearPolitics, and former New Hampshire Gov. Chris Christie polled at an average of 3.5% before announcing Wednesday that he was dropping out of the race. Asa Hutchinson has polled consistently under 1% during his campaign.

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds endorsed DeSantis in November, saying that she didn’t believe Trump would be able to win a general election but expressed confidence in DeSantis’ ability to beat Biden.

“I believe Ron can and that’s a big reason I got behind him,” Reynolds said.

Both DeSantis and Ramaswamy have completed the “full Grassley” of Iowa’s 99 counties named after Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, who makes the trip every year. Ramaswamy is looking to complete a second tour and has multiple town halls scheduled up through Monday.

The weather in Iowa is supposed to be the coldest caucus day in the state’s history with temperatures reaching below zero, according to KCCI, a local media outlet. The campaigns, however, remained optimistic after the presidential debate in Des Moines, Iowa, on Wednesday that the weather would not stop Iowans from participating in the caucuses

Andrew Romeo, a spokesperson for the DeSantis campaign, told reporters that “we can rely on our people.”

“Well, we’ve been [saying] when you are in constant contact with voters, when your candidate has [visited] 99 counties and makes a personal connection with them stronger than anything anyone else has, that’s going to matter when the weather is cold like this,” Romeo said. “And when it’s hard to get people to come out and people don’t want to turn out, we know we can rely on our people because those are the folks that we’ve been in constant contact with and built strong relationships with.”

Preya Samsundar, a spokesperson for the SFA Fund, a pro-Haley Super PAC, also told reporters that “to quote Frozen, ‘the cold never bothered us anyway.’”

“Folks here in Iowa, this is just winter for us,” Samsundar said. “We’re just going to come out and do things as long as the roads are great. Folks are gonna come out and do their thing. They know how important the Iowa caucuses are. Iowans know how important their voice is in this process.”

Kate Anderson on January 14, 2024

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