DES MOINES, IA — We’re just a few days out from the Iowa caucuses, and candidates — and their surrogates — are blitzing the state, hoping to convince every voter possible to turn out for them on Monday despite an expected record-cold freeze. As we head to the finish line in the Hawkeye state, voters are deciding who they’ll get behind, homing in on what they like about a particular candidate, and identifying what message resonates the most with them. Here’s the view from voters across the state.
The View From A Donald Trump Voter
Trump has had a loyal, built-in voter base for years, and even many Republican voters who want new leadership within the party feel a level of protectiveness when it comes to the former president. Voters who are planning to caucus for Trump on Monday don’t buy into the legitimacy of his legal problems, echoing his arguments that they’re politically motivated. They also often cite the fact that, as the only former president in the race, he’s proven he can deliver.
“I think that people have figured it out by now. Maybe a year or two ago they didn’t have it figured out, now they’ve got it figured out, and they think he’s our best candidate to get us back to where we were, and then to restore our America to what it should be,” said 62-year-old Lynne Mona, a semiretired special education associate living in Des Moines. “He’s already shown us he can do it. Now we want to restore it and make it this great place again.”
The View From A Ron DeSantis Voter
Ron DeSantis has worn many hats throughout his presidential run, but has tried in part to emphasize his record in Florida — particularly when it came to the COVID pandemic — and his strict stance on various social issues. Iowa voters who plan to back him say they like what he’s done in Florida, sometimes even comparing it to Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ record in the state. He’s seen by supporters on the ground as a staunch conservative who can keep the MAGA-like policies and build on them — without the drama.
“The thought of Trump as the nominee makes me sick,” said Mark Walter after hearing DeSantis speak in Clive, outside Des Moines. “He didn’t keep his promises.”
The View From A Nikki Haley Voter
Those backing Haley are likely to cite her foreign policy experience and her demeanor as reasons they’ve been swayed to turn out in her favor. The former South Carolina governor has more experience on the national stage than some of her counterparts, something that’s also cited as a positive by voters here in Iowa, and she’s successfully won over many of the more moderate, old-school Republicans in the state with her argument that she’s the most electable candidate in the race.
“Anybody but Trump,” said Scott Garbe as he waited to hear Haley speak in Cedar Rapids. He’d switched his registration in 2020 to caucus for Amy Klobuchar, then switched it back to support Haley this year. “I think she’s electable. She could get some crossover votes from Democrats, and be more moderate.”
The View From A Vivek Ramaswamy Voter
Ramaswamy bills himself as the MAGA 2.0 candidate, refusing to criticize Trump and vowing to go beyond what the former president did in office. In the closing stretch, he’s argued that a vote for him is a way to support the MAGA movement — an insurance policy, if the Republican establishment tries to deny Trump the nomination and foist a Haley-DeSantis on them.
“They’re going to bog down Trump as much as they possibly can,” said Josh Toomer after meeting the candidate in Cedar Rapids on Thursday. “But they don’t have any dirt on Vivek.”