The bitterly cold conditions in Iowa today have at least given journalists something to talk about. There’s a distinct lack of political drama, given everyone expects today’s Republican caucuses to be a blowout win for Donald Trump. The main questions of interest are: will Nikki Haley or Ron DeSantis finish second? And will Trump break Republican records and win more than 50 per cent of the vote? Given that polls suggest Trump voters are far more enthusiastic than the supporters of his rivals, the arctic temperatures may only give him a further advantage.
The weather is also a handy metaphor for the frozen state of Republican politics: Haley and DeSantis’s campaigns have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in their attempts to challenge the 45th president, yet Trump’s lead only seems to grow. Until or unless Donald Trump dies, retires, or is somehow blocked, his opponents on the right are stuck. Yes, polls suggest Haley is gaining ground in New Hampshire ahead of the first primary next week, and any success she has tonight will be hyped as potentially game changing. But it probably won’t make any difference. Trump could implode. The race for the Republican nomination refuses to warm up.
‘Tomorrow is our first victory!’ the Trump campaign told supporters yesterday in a fundraising email. Such hubris may invite nemesis – and Trump himself is said to be highly superstitious about making such bold predictions – but since the final Iowa poll, published yesterday by Ann Selzer for the Des Moines Register, put Trump on 48 per cent and Haley and DeSantis on 36 per cent combined, a little cockiness is probably justified. The same poll showed Trump winning Iowa in 2016 before he lost the caucuses to Ted Cruz. But Trump’s support is far bigger and broader than it was eight years ago.