Why Trump’s Iowa Victory Is Significant For Republicans
The 2020 US presidential election started off in chaos last night. The Democrats’ Iowa caucus ended in disarray due to reporting errors in the final results of the most anticipated primary of the race so far.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump’s campaign team have plenty to be jubilant about. He defeated his presidential rivals in the Republican Party’s own Iowa primary, winning with roughly over 97 percent of the vote over former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld and former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh. The latter candidates ended the race with roughly one percent of the vote each.
Trump Enjoys Overwhelming Support Among Republicans
Republican National Committee spokesman Rick Gorka commented to Fox News on Monday that the President has “record support” among GOP voters. He is not wrong. Gorka was instrumental behind Trump’s victory on Monday night, as he admitted to training activists as staff in every corner of the swing state. They have attended over 230 Trump Victory Leadership Initiative Training sessions with over 1,700 attendees.
This demonstrates that the President’s campaign team have realized how vital the state is to his 2020 fortunes. During the Republicans’ 2016 Iowa caucus, Trump came in second place, trailing Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) by nearly four percentage points. In the 2016 general election, Trump won the state by nearly 10 points. The last time the GOP won this battleground was in the 2004 poll which was a year that saw President George W. Bush get re-elected.
The Impact Of Internal Dissent
It is always deeply concerning for the governing party when a key national political figure announces they will stand against a sitting president from within. President Ronald Reagan’s decision to challenge President Gerald Ford in 1975, for example, was recognized as a significant factor that contributed to the latter’s defeat to Jimmy Carter in the 1976 general election.
The same could be said of the Republicans when Pat Buchanan attempted to defeat President George H.W. Bush in the 1992 GOP primaries, which paved the way for Bill Clinton’s victory that year.
The Democrats have also experienced internal divisions when fighting to re-elect a sitting president after Ted Kennedy fought President Jimmy Carter over the 1980 Democratic presidential nomination, thereby causing Reagan to win the presidential election held on the same year.
The Republican Party Belongs To Trump Now
Although neither Walsh nor Weld were ever expected to pose a significant challenge to Trump, there is no denying that the President has molded the Republican Party in his image and that they did even worse than expected.
Not only have 1,700 activists been effectively trained at Trump leadership programs, but Trump used Iowa as a platform to test his membership base. More than 80 Trump surrogates were spread across the state, speaking at Republican caucus locations.
Walsh has vowed to continue with his campaign to unseat the President, and the Weld team is yet to decide how it intends to proceed following Monday’s defeat. But if both candidates cannot gather enough support in this significant battleground, then there is no point in them continuing their presidential bids.
Trump’s Strongest Re-election Argument: Economic Strength
Although Trump is not a moderate Republican candidate, with a booming economy that grew at 2.1 percent in Q4 2019, he has a strong economic track record that he can deploy against the Democrats, particularly if they nominate radical candidates like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren.
His surprise victory against Hillary Clinton in 2016 proves that Trump can defeat moderate Democrats, too, and with Joe Biden’s lackluster campaign stalling, the former Vice President might not pose much of a threat to the GOP.
For now, the President has a lot to be confident about. He is unlikely to experience a significant setback to a potential 2020 presidential victory to the same extent Ford and Bush Senior did. There is currently no rival politician with enough gravitas to pose a real threat to Trump. And with the Democratic candidates all facing their own hurdles, none of them present a substantial challenge to the Trump administration, either. Having said that, there is still plenty of time for anything to change.