By Josh Boak And Linley Sanders, The Associated Press on January 15, 2024.
WASHINGTON (AP) – The majority of Iowa Republicans who are caucusing Monday believe in the need to “Make America Great Again,” a sign of how Donald Trump and his political movement have transformed a state party that denied him a victory eight years ago.
AP VoteCast found that nearly all those participating in the nation’s first presidential contest want significant change in how the country is run, if not a total upheaval. About 6 in 10 identify as supporters of the movement that Trump jumpstarted in his winning 2016 campaign and the former president has nurtured further in his 2024 run for the White House.
The findings from AP VoteCast suggest that Trump is in a strong position as the caucuses began. He shows significant strength among urban, small town and rural communities. Trump also performs well with evangelical Christians and those without a college degree. One relative weakness for Trump comes in the suburbs, where only about 4 in 10 support him.
AP VoteCast is a survey of more than 1,500 voters who said they planned to take part in the caucuses. The survey is conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Iowa Republicans who showed up to caucus prioritized immigration: about 4 in 10 GOP caucusgoers chose it as the most important issue facing the country. About one-third said it was the economy. Fewer people named other priorities, including foreign policy, health care or energy.
TRUMP’S OTHER STRENGTHS
Caucusgoers who care foremost about immigration or the economy are most likely to be in Trump’s camp.
Among those who identified immigration as the most important issue for the nation, roughly two-thirds back Trump. Those participating on Monday agreed with his hard-line stance on finding ways to limit immigration.
About 9 in 10 of GOP caucusgoers back building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, with about 7 in 10 expressing strong support for the idea first championed by Trump during his 2016 campaign. The vast majority, about three-quarters, say immigrants hurt the United States, an indication that there is a desire to reduce overall immigration levels.
Of those who prioritized the economy, about half support Trump.
Among Republicans, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haleyis something of an anti-Trump option, even though she was his U.N. ambassador.
She is the top candidate of GOP caucusgoers who say Trump did something illegal when it comes to at least one of the criminal cases against him. Among those who say they are caucusing for Haley, about 4 in 10 voted in the 2020 presidential election for Democrat Joe Biden, who defeated Trump. Haley also appears competitive with Trump among people who say foreign policy is the top issue facing the country. Most of Haley’s supporters have a college degree, more so than among supporters of Trump.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis performs best among the caucusgoers who are dissatisfied with Trump but say they would ultimately vote for him in the general election. DeSantis’ supporters are more likely than those for other candidates to say they think abortion should always be illegal.
About 3 in 10 caucusgoers supporting biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy are under age 30, compared with only about 1 in 10 of those backing any of the other top candidates. Ramaswamy, 38, has tried to emphasize his youth as an advantage.
FEW LAST-MINUTE DECISIONS
About two-thirds of caucus attendees say they decided whom they would support more than a month ago, including about 4 in 10 saying they have known all along. About 2 in 10 say they only decided in the past few days. Most Iowans attending a caucus have done so before, but about 3 in 10 are first-time participants.
NO TO THE STATUS QUO
Caucusgoers want sweeping changes to how the federal government is run, suggesting they care far more about disruption than seeking common ground. About 3 in 10 say they are seeking a complete and total upheaval. About an additional 6 in 10 caucusgoers say they want substantial changes.
The vast majority of Iowa caucusgoers trust elections in their state, but about 4 in 10 are not too confident or not at all confident in the integrity of U.S. elections. Nearly 6 in 10 have little to no confidence in the American legal system.
Indicted multiple times in 2023, Trump faces the risk of one or more criminal convictions this year. But that appears to have done little damage to his reputation as the charges are seen through a political lens.
About three-quarters say the charges are political attempts to undermine Trump, rather than legitimate attempts to investigate important issues.
Still, about one-quarter say Trump has done something illegal when it comes to at least one of the legal cases he is facing: his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, his alleged attempts to interfere in the vote count in the 2020 presidential election or the discovery of classified documents at his Florida home that were supposed to be in government custody.
Many in the survey want the federal government to back away from world affairs. Half say the United States should take a less active role in resolving global issues. About 3 in 10 say the current role is about right, while 2 in 10 say the U.S. should expand its foreign engagement.
There is also a difference of opinion on which countries the U.S. should help. About two-thirds of Iowa caucusgoers favor continuing aid to Israel in its fight against Hamas. But about 6 in 10 oppose the ongoing aid to Ukraine in its war against Russia.
Views on abortion are far from simple, but most Iowa GOP caucusgoers say there should be limited access to the procedure.
About 2 in 10 say that abortion should be illegal in all cases. About an additional half say it should be illegal in most cases. The rest say it should be legal in most or all cases. About three-quarters of those attending the caucuses support banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, and about two-thirds favor a ban at six weeks of pregnancy.
AP VoteCast is a survey of the American electorate conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research for AP and Fox News. The survey of 1,517 voters was conducted for eight days, concluding as the caucuses begin. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. The survey combines a random sample of registered voters drawn from state voter files and self-identified registered voters selected from nonprobability online panels. The margin of sampling error for voters is estimated to be plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. Find more details about AP VoteCast’s methodology at https://ap.org/votecast.
For the latest updates on the Iowa caucuses, follow the AP’s live coverage. Follow the AP’s coverage of the 2024 election at https://apnews.com/hub/election-2024