As journalists travel to snow-covered Iowa and icy New Hampshire to cover the early nominating contests for Donald Trump this month, I’m immediately struck by how different this election year is from past years.
Donald Trump is dominating.
Take a look at recent polls. He is 35 points ahead of Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis in Iowa with over 50 percent support in most polls. He is comfortably ahead of Haley in New Hampshire, even in the latest CNN poll showing his margin at seven points. In South Carolina, Trump is leading easily by about 30 points and similarly holds over 50 percent.
I fully expect that when the viewership numbers for Wednesday’s CNN debate between Haley and DeSantis come in, Donald Trump’s town hall on Fox will dominate as well.
Don’t expect any last-minute surprises in Iowa. The last time Republicans had a surprise caucus result was in 2012 when Rick Santorum shocked the political world with a last-minute surge of support from Republicans who did not want to nominate Mitt Romney.
In the 2016 caucus, Ted Cruz won as expected, beating Donald Trump as many Iowa Republicans doubted whether they could trust the billionaire from New York to represent their values. Whatever doubts they harbored in 2016 have quickly vanished. Trump is their guy.
I know. It’s tempting to look for surprise storylines in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina and I’m sure some will emerge, but there’s no question that Trump will dominate the nomination process.
He still has a wide lead despite boycotting the Republican debates, making the fewest trips to Iowa than any other major candidate, and ignoring party handwringing over his criminal charges.
There are many reasons for that, but let me focus on one. Trump has a strong record as a one-term president.
There is a host of Republican voters who enjoyed the first four years of Trump and want it back. The world was more peaceful, the nation more prosperous, and he installed three originalist Supreme Court Justices.
Oh yeah, and beef and bacon were cheaper. Despite the chaos of COVID-19 and the 2020 riots, Trump earned their trust while Republican past presidents had let them down.
That kind of trust and bond with voters beats the NeverTrumpers or the Please-no Trumpers struggling mightily with Trump’s stubborn denial of the 2020 election results, the January 6th riot, and the host of felony criminal charges.
Critics of Trump who decry the “cult of personality” to explain his hold on the Republican Party forget that he actually has a strong record of achievement during his first four years.
At this point, it’s clear what the result of the primary will be. It's time to focus on 2024's unique general election contest between President Joe Biden and former President Trump.
Charlie Spiering is a Wyoming native who works in Washington, D.C., where he opines about the White House, Congress and national politics. A former writer for Breitbart News, The Washington Examiner and columnist Robert Novak, Spiering frequently returns home to the family farm in Powell to escape the insanity of Washington.
Charlie Spiering can be reached at: Charlie.Spiering@gmail.com