DES MOINES, IA – Former President Donald Trump remains the commanding front-runner in a closely watched poll of likely Republican presidential caucusgoers in Iowa.
And former ambassador and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley edges Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for second place.
The final Des Moines Register/Mediacom/NBC News poll of likely Republican caucusgoers was released Saturday night, two days before the Iowa caucuses lead off the 2024 GOP presidential nominating calendar.
Trump stands at 48% support in the poll, with Haley at 20% and DeSantis at 16%
Multimillionaire biotech entrepreneur and first-time candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, who has relentlessly campaigned across the Hawkeye State the past couple of months, stands at 8% support in the poll.
The new poll is the second straight survey in Iowa to indicate Haley ahead of DeSantis, following a Suffolk University poll that was released a few days ago. But her advantage over DeSantis in the new survey is within the sampling error.
And poll indicates that just nine percent of Haley supporters are extremely enthusiastic about her White House bid, which was much lower than enthusiasm among those backing Trump and DeSantis.
Enthusiasm could be an important factor as bitterly cold weather threatens to depress turnout on Monday night.
The survey, conducted by longtime pollster Ann Selzer, has a well-earned tradition of accuracy in past GOP presidential caucuses, and is considered by many as the gold standard in Iowa polling.
Trump is the clear front-runner in the race for Republican standardbearer as he makes his third White House run.
Trump made history last year as the first former or current president to be indicted for an alleged crime, but his four indictments, including charges he tried to overturn his 2020 presidential election loss, have only fueled his support among Republican voters.
DeSantis, who was convincingly re-elected to a second term as Florida governor 14 months ago, was once the clear alternative to Trump in the Republican White House race. For months, he was solidly in second place behind the former president.
However, after a series of campaign setbacks over the summer and autumn, DeSantis saw his support in the polls erode.
Haley, who served as ambassador to the United Nations in the Trump administration, grabbed momentum during the autumn, thanks to well-regarded debate performances. In recent weeks, she caught up with DeSantis for second place in polls in Iowa and in national surveys.
Haley also surpassed DeSantis and surged to second place and narrowed the gap with Trump in New Hampshire, the state that holds the first primary and second overall contest in the GOP nominating calendar, eight days after Iowa’s caucuses.
DeSantis appears to have staked much of his presidential campaign on a strong finish in Iowa. He has highlighted that he has stopped in all 99 of the state’s counties and showcased his strong grassroots outreach organization in Iowa. Pundits have labeled Iowa a “do-or-die” state for the Florida governor.
Last month, in multiple interviews, even though he was down double digits in the polls to Trump in Iowa, DeSantis predicted victory.
“We’re going to win Iowa. We’ve got the organization in place,” the governor declared in a Fox News Digital interview in Bettendorf, Iowa, a week before Christmas.
But DeSantis seems to have tempered expectations, telling Fox News multiple times in recent days that “we’re going to do well” in Iowa.
The survey was released on Saturday evening, after a blizzard slammed into Iowa the past two days, and as frigid weather dropped temperatures below zero across the state.
The bitterly cold weather, which is forecast to extend into the working week, threatens to put a chill on turnout at Monday night’s caucuses.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who did not campaign in Iowa this cycle as he concentrated his time and resources in New Hampshire, suspended his campaign on Wednesday. His sliver of support was reallocated to the other candidates still in the race.
The poll was conducted Jan 7-12 , with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 points.
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