And in Iowa, Republicans are already voting for their presidential nominee today

The US election year actually begins on Monday, with the first Republican “caucus” taking place in Iowa. The fact that Trump has been declared the winner may also work to his disadvantage, says American politics professor Bart Kerremans (KU Leuven). “The knockout effect may be the most important thing in this caucus.”

Yannick Verberkmus

26 degrees below zero, that’s how cold it is in rural Iowa right now. Republicans in that state, located in the American Midwest, will make a trip through the ice and snow on Monday to vote for whoever they want to appoint as their presidential candidate.

This is the first time voters go to the polls this year. A caucus is different from a regular primary – Bart Kerremans explains. Unlike a primary, caucus voters cast their ballots publicly.

“Voters gather at community centers and listen to speeches from influential supporters defending their candidates,” Keremans says. “It begins Monday evening at 7 a.m. This is followed by about two hours of speeches, and then Republican voters vote with ballots. The result determines how many delegates each candidate will receive at the Republican National Convention in the summer. Only then will it be officially announced who will be the Republican presidential nominee.” ».

Why is this gathering so important?

He added: “This is the first electoral test that shows how strong the support is for each of the candidates. If the candidate gets a good score, it can also give momentum to his campaign, which will then play a role in the next primaries. That is why the focus is now on A lot of attention on Iowa, and why candidates are investing so much money to get promoted. The importance of this caucus is much greater than you would normally expect from such a small state.

Trump leads by a large margin in opinion polls. Can Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley still make things difficult for him?

“Trump already has a solid lead. This is raising concern among members of the Trump campaign. The result may be that his supporters wonder why they should brave the cold if he is to win. All candidates are now trying to persuade voters to cast their ballots with certainty. Because Trump is so far ahead, the battle for second place in the state is about everything.

“DeSantis did everything he could to get it. He personally campaigned in all 99 counties, and had almost reached the limit of what he could spend on advertising there. And the older white population of the rural state will be closer to him ideologically than to Haley. It would be a huge disappointment for DeSantis if he only finished third in Iowa.

Do Iowans represent the rest of America?

“No, that’s one of the reasons why clustering is an unreliable indicator. We know little about the voting behavior of minorities in Iowa. Republicans also have supporters. In addition to being white and rural, the population is also quite religious.

“Democrats are also holding a primary in Iowa. But since there are so few voters, that doesn’t say much about who will win their nomination. In Iowa, Democrats vote by mail. “We will know their results on March 5.”

What elections are important for Democrats?

“For Democrats, it really starts next month in South Carolina. When Joe Biden was struggling against Bernie Sanders four years ago, his win in South Carolina gave him a decisive boost. It remains to be seen what happens next. Biden usually does well with black Americans. That demographic’s vote carries a lot of weight among Democratic voters in that state. But in recent years, Biden has lost some praise among them. The fact that promised police reform did not materialize was a great disappointment to black Americans.

Will the weather in Iowa be a factor?

“The effect of weather on elections has not yet been systematically investigated. But there may be an effect. This rally will serve as a measure of how eager voters are to cast their ballots. Candidates are doing everything they can to convince voters of the importance of this. There are even volunteers picking people up in trucks Small and take them to meetings.

“The format also has some disadvantages. For example, if you go to a campaign rally like this, everyone can see you. So you chose to camp openly. There are people for whom their political preference or support for a candidate is secret. They don’t want to express themselves in this way.”

Do you expect the candidates to withdraw after this gathering?

“It’s certainly possible. This ‘knockout effect’ is probably the most important thing in this caucus: a candidate who does very poorly and then calls it quits. It could happen to Asa Hutchinson, the former governor of Arkansas. He’s barely visible. His sponsors are looking, too.” To the elections and collect donations for him Reaches a dead end due to a bad outcome, it’s over and done with.

“Earlier, Chris Christie saw the mood fluctuating and withdrew from the race. But no one can see what’s in the candidate’s mind. I always say: You don’t know the outcome of a football match until the last minute is played.”

Nikki Haley.Reuters photo

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