Trump’s Distant Competitors Locked in Contest Between Momentum and Organization
The Hawkeye State Poll finds Donald Trump holds a dominant lead just ahead of the Iowa Republican Caucuses, with support from caucus-goers above 50%. BIG DATA POLL was the first statewide survey to find the former president hitting the critical 50-percent threshold and first national survey to find support for former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley surpassing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
Now, that “reshuffling of the bottom of the deck” nationally has translated into a statistical dead heat for second, third and fourth place in Iowa. With leaners, President Trump leads Ambassador Haley, Governor DeSantis and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, 52.4% to 17.2%, 12.6% and 11.9%, respectively. Since November, the frontrunner gained roughly a point, the ambassador rose 4.4 points from 12.8%, and Ramaswamy gained 6.5 points from 5.4%. Governor DeSantis slipped 4.2 points from 16.8%.
“President Trump has a seemingly insurmountable lead and three of his distant rivals are all close enough to each other that this has become a classic case of momentum versus organization,” BIG DATA POLL Director Rich Baris, said. “Ambassador Haley has momentum, albeit potentially fizzling, while Governor DeSantis has touted a superior organization.”
“Mr. Ramaswamy appears to have a little of both, though he remains challenged by his failure—at least thus far—to break through with key demographics critical to the Iowa Republican Caucuses.”
However, the most significant finding is the continued solidification of support for President Trump days before voting begins, and as other candidates drop out of the race for the Republican nomination. Nearly 8 in 10 caucus-goers supporting him say they cannot be persuaded to change their mind at the caucus, up from nearly 7 in 10 back in November and just over 6 in 10 in August.
That core support compares to just 62.3% who say the same supporting Ambassador Haley, 47.2% for Governor DeSantis and 37.5% for Mr. Ramaswamy.
There almost always comes a point in the primary process when supporters of trailing candidates start threatening to not “come home” or leave the party if their horse doesn’t win the nomination. As BIG DATA POLL did nationally, we looked at that potential impact in Iowa.
While supporters of Governor DeSantis, Mr. Vivek, and President Trump largely will vote for the Republican nominee—in that order as far as a share of their total vote—the most significant finding is very much in line with the national results. Supporters of the former president potentially lost to the eventual nominee dwarf the other three candidates, combined.
“This is most instructive if you want to understand the impact of the Trump or Bust voter,” Director Baris added. “They are a major reason states such as Iowa, Ohio and Florida are not particularly competitive with the former president as the nominee.”
“With other potential candidates as the nominee, these states get razor thin.”
BIG DATA POLL interviewed 1,099 registered voters (validated) in Iowa via mixed mode from January 9 to January 11, 2024, to include 448 likely caucus-goers screened by self-reported likelihood to vote and vote history. Interviews conducted online are sourced through Lucid (CINT) and phone interviews including P2P SMS and text-to-online are sourced from the Aristotle National Voter File Database. Likely caucus-goers are further screened for eligibility by registration and intent based on primary / caucus system rules for each state. Results were weighted for gender, age, race, education, geography and region. The overall sampling error is +/- 4.7% at a 95% confidence. Meaning, if this survey were repeated using the same questions and methodology, the findings would not vary from the true population value by more than +/- 4.7%, 19 times out of 20. It is important to note that sampling errors for subgroups are higher. All BIG DATA POLL publicly conducted surveys are crowdfunded via the Public Polling Project, supplemented if necessary by BIG DATA POLL and are NOT funded by or affiliated with any candidate, campaign, committee, or political entity. Full and interactive crosstabs can be viewed on MarketSight.