It is the record margin of victory that Donald J. Trump is aiming for. Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley are fighting for a stronger-than-expected second place finish. It starts caucasing around 7:00 p.m. Central time.
On Monday, Donald J. Trump, Nikki Haley, and Ron DeSantis had to contend with strong winds and cold temperatures as they battled supporters urging them to come for the Iowa Republican presidential caucus to be held tonight, marking the end of nearly a year of rallies, living room coffees, television ads, and extensive travels in this pivotal state.
With Mr. Trump’s heavy presence in the field today, the main suspense is over who will come in second place: Mrs. Haley, the former South Carolina governor and Mr. Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, or Mr. DeSantis, the governor of Florida.
Mr. Trump spent Sunday at his final personal rally and, before touring a caucus site in Des Moines on Monday, spent time summoning caucus captains. His aides have suggested that the cold weather—and his strength in the polls—could force some of the former president’s supporters to stay home.
Seeing how much emphasis Mr. Trump has placed on Iowa and predicting that a victory here could establish a record, the campaign’s last-minute efforts may be an attempt to diminish hopes in the final hours.
Mrs. Haley is participating in various events in Des Moines and its surroundings on Monday, hosting a virtual town hall and touring a caucus site.
On the contrary, Mr. DeSantis, to avoid staying in third place, is campaigning with personal appearances and media interviews across the state, with a strong program of events, stating that it could force him to leave the race. “Are you ready to face extremely cold temperatures?
In other news:
The caucusing will begin at 7 p.m. Central Time. Any last-minute interruptions, leaving aside the history of last-minute interruptions in the Iowa caucus system, should start to show results within a few hours.
At one time, there were high hopes for a potential record turnout for Republicans in these caucuses. However, harsh weather and Mr. Trump’s dominance have tempered expectations. AccuWeather’s chief meteorologist Jonathan Porter said that when caucus-goers cast their first votes tonight, temperatures will feel about 40 degrees below zero in northern Iowa and 30 degrees below zero near Des Moines.
After Monday, the post-caucus exodus will begin in New Hampshire, where next week’s Republican primary will take place. Mr. Trump, Mrs. Haley, and Mr. DeSantis are all planning to go there, although Mr. DeSantis will stop in South Carolina on the way. There will be no relief from the weather in New Hampshire: forecasters are predicting more snow and cold temperatures.
Mr. DeSantis called the Iowa caucuses “unstable” and suggested to a conservative talk radio host on Monday that undecided Republicans were still choosing between him and Mr. Trump. Referring to recent attacks by Mr. Trump on Governor Kim Reynolds of Iowa, who had supported Mr. DeSantis, he accused the former president of operating with “tunnel vision.”
Mr. Trump, by attacking Mrs. Haley, concluded a low-key month of campaign promotion, which, like any poll, is a good sign of how he sees the race in the coming days. He told supporters that Mrs. Haley is “not right to be president.” (In a major poll released Saturday night, she was shown at 20 percent, trailing Mr. Trump with 48 percent. Mr. DeSantis was at 16 percent.)
As a candidate for change, Mrs. Haley, for her part, utilised her closing remarks in Ames on Sunday to inform voters that the nation is at a critical moment—”the world is on fire,” she declared. She said, “The only way to win the approval of the American people is to have a new generation leader who leaves negativity and burdens behind and focuses on solutions for the future.”