Team Trump has decided to try to zero in on Iowa in an effort to thwart Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and position former President Donald Trump as the clear frontrunner in the Republican presidential primary race. As Trump continues to maintain his considerable lead over the rest of the field, DeSantis is planning a major push in Iowa, a key state in deciding the trajectory of the primary.
The former president’s team will be intensifying their effort to win over Iowa’s Republican base of voters. According to recent polling of Iowa primary voters, Trump leads DeSantis 50 percent to 14 percent.
The former president and his team are beefing up their efforts in Iowa, hoping to deliver the type of knock-out punch that would effectively end the Florida governor’s bid and send a message to the other campaigns to get out of the way.
Building on his seven visits to Iowa so far this year, Trump is embarking on a “Team Trump Caucus Commitment” organizing event in Iowa with campaign volunteers at the Jackson County Fairgrounds in Maquoketa, and remarks at the Grand River Conference Center in Dubuque this Wednesday. Trump plans to make three more stops in Iowa during the first half of October, and again in the final days of the month, his team said. The Trump campaign is also bringing on Alex Meyer, who was recently part of the RNC’s political data team, as a senior adviser to focus on both Iowa and Missouri.
It’s a remarkable investment of time from a candidate who has, through the summer, left a light footprint on the trail. And it’s being supplemented with an air attack by Trump world as a pro-DeSantis PAC advertises aggressively in the state. MAGA Inc., the super PAC supporting Trump, is spending over $700,000 on advertising this week in Iowa, according to the ad tracking firm AdImpact. Trump’s Iowa team is focused on educating and training Trump supporters on the caucus process, and the Trump campaign has boasted of 27,500 signed caucus pledge cards and 1,500 local volunteers in the state.
Team DeSantis is also ramping up its efforts in Iowa. The governor’s supporters have been playing an extensive ground game in the state, hoping to at least get a strong second-place showing to keep him in the race.
DeSantis, for his part, is betting much of his political fortune on Iowa. He has been out-working Trump in the Hawkeye State, which comes with just 40 delegates but the potential for immeasurable momentum when it kicks off the grueling primary season on Jan. 15, 2024. He’s received 40 endorsements from state legislators, visited 58 of the state’s 99 counties and campaigned alongside the popular governor, Kim Reynolds, whom Trump has publicly admonished. DeSantis’ team says it has secured some 13,000 written commitments from caucus-goers.
And the PAC that is all but running the Florida governor’s campaign has bought $15.6 million worth of ads in the state through November, according to AdImpact — more than triple the $2.9 million the MAGA Inc. PAC supporting Trump has spent.
The fact that Trump is pouring so many resources into the Iowa race might indicate that he still views DeSantis as a threat despite his wide lead over the governor. Despite the fact that DeSantis’ campaign has experienced some setbacks, he remains ahead of the rest of those trying to overtake Trump in the polling. The fact that he has made visits to 58 out of the state’s 99 counties shows he is determined to make a decent showing.
However, the polling remains a problem for DeSantis.
The national polls from Fox News and Quinnipiac University show Trump expanding his lead over DeSantis to 47 and 50 points, respectively. Those are Trump’s largest margins to date in high-quality national polls of the race. And thus his lead in the FiveThirtyEight polling average has expanded to a whopping 41 points.
Trump is still in a very favorable position to win Iowa and the rest of the primary race. Still, it would not make sense to count DeSantis out yet. He does not need to beat Trump in Iowa to remain competitive; he only needs to perform well enough to keep up the momentum. This is why Team Trump is trying to ensure a decisive win there to further establish the notion that a Trump nomination is inevitable.
This race will be a major test for DeSantis and could very well determine whether he is able to turn his campaign around. Whether he can do so remains to be seen. But one thing is for certain: The primary race is far from being decided just yet.