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Donald Trump faces a crucial test in Iowa's caucuses as he seeks to maintain his influence in Republican politics.

Tonight in frigid iowa, voting is poised to commence, with former president donald trump aiming for a victory that would underscore his unwavering momentum toward the 2024 republican party nomination, despite both harsh weather and legal challenges.

the iowa caucuses, the inaugural skirmish in the lengthy republican presidential primary, are scheduled to kick off at 8 p.m. Est. Across more than 1,500 venues, caucus participants will convene to deliberate and ultimately cast their votes in private.

While trump exudes confidence, his former chief rival, florida governor ron desantis, is battling for his political survival in a crucial race for second place. Former u.n. Ambassador nikki haley, the sole woman in the race, poses a challenge to desantis.

Over the past few weeks, the two have fiercely vied to emerge as the clear alternative to the former president, who has alienated many americans and may potentially face conviction by year’s end. ‘I absolutely love a lot of the things (trump) did, but his personality is just kind of getting in his way,’ remarked hans rudin, a 49-year-old community college adviser from council bluffs, iowa, who supported trump in the past two elections but intends to caucus for desantis on monday.

Polls indicate that trump is beginning the day with a substantial lead in iowa, while haley and desantis are competing for a distant second place. Entrepreneur vivek ramaswamy, former arkansas gov. Asa hutchinson, and former new jersey gov. Chris christie, who suspended his campaign last week, are also on the ballot.

The campaigns are preparing for a low-turnout contest due to the coldest temperatures in caucus history and treacherous travel conditions across the rural state, which will serve as a test for their support and organizational strength. The outcome will send a strong signal for the remainder of the nomination fight to determine who will challenge democratic president joe biden in the november general election.

Following iowa, the republican primary will transition to new hampshire, nevada, and south carolina in the upcoming weeks before progressing to the rest of the country in spring. The final nominee will not be confirmed until the party’s national convention in july, but with substantial victories in the initial contests, trump will be formidable to impede.

Heading into the iowa caucuses, which take place 426 days after the start of his 2024 campaign, trump’s enduring political influence underscores the republican party’s reluctance to move beyond him. Despite his loss to biden in 2020, trump’s legacy of persistent turmoil during his time in the white house culminated in a deadly assault on the u.s. Capitol by his supporters. Currently, he is confronted with a total of 91 felony charges across four criminal cases, including two indictments related to his attempts to overturn the election and a third indictment for storing classified documents in his florida residence.

In recent weeks, trump has increasingly mirrored authoritarian leaders and presented his campaign as one focused on reprisal. He has openly discussed leveraging the government’s power to target his political adversaries. Using rhetoric reminiscent of adolf hitler, he has repeatedly argued that immigrants entering the u.s. Illegally are “poisoning the blood of our country.” additionally, he recently shared a word cloud on his social media account featuring words like “revenge,” “power,” and “dictatorship.”

Despite this, republican voters are resolute. “trump is a Christian. He’s dependable. He stands for America and freedom,” said 71-year-old kathy deangelo, a retired hospital administrative employee braving subzero weather to see trump on Sunday. “he’s the only one.”

The latest des moines register/nbc news poll before the caucuses shows trump maintaining a strong lead, with the support of nearly half of likely caucusgoers, while haley and desantis trail behind at 20% and 16% respectively. Haley, the former u.n. Ambassador and south carolina governor, and desantis, the florida governor, are in a tight battle for second place. Trump is also more favorably viewed by likely caucusgoers, with a 69% favorability rating compared to 58% for desantis and 48% for haley.

On the eve of the caucuses, trump anticipated setting a modern-day record for an iowa republican caucus by achieving a margin of victory exceeding the nearly 13 percentage points earned by bob dole in 1988. He also aimed to downplay expectations of receiving as much as 50% of the total vote.

Regardless of whether he achieves that number or not, his critics point out that approximately half of the state’s republican voters will probably select a candidate other than trump.

The victory by 12 points set a new record.well, let’s aim for that,” remarked trump on sunday while speaking at a des moines hotel. “if we don’t reach that, let them criticize us, right? But let’s strive to reach 50%.”
“face the weather and go out to protect america,” he later urged.

Temperatures in some parts of iowa on monday could drop to as low as negative 14 degrees fahrenheit (negative 26 degrees celsius), while snowdrifts from friday’s blizzard continue to pose travel hazards across the rural state, where unpaved roads are commonplace.

Forecasters have issued a warning for “extremely cold wind chills” potentially as low as 45 degrees below zero fahrenheit until noon on tuesday. The national weather service has cautioned that these conditions could result in frostbite and hypothermia within minutes if individuals are not adequately dressed for the weather.
Throughout the weekend, prominent signs along major roadways advised drivers with bold orange letters stating: “travel not advised.”

The winter weather, even daunting for iowa, will further disrupt an already atypical process.

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