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‘We crushed it’: Trump’s Iowa win has no historic comparison

“It was a great victory,” former president Trump’s son told me moments after his father’s Iowa victory was announced. 

“He is feeling great. We crushed it tonight,” Eric Trump said.

And crush it, they did.

It was remarkable and has no comparison in Iowan caucus history.

It’s all the more remarkable because Donald Trump has no comparison in American political history – a man with 91 criminal charges hanging over him.

But in churches and sports halls across this midwestern state, Republican voters had overwhelmingly concluded, on this frigid Iowan night, that Trump was their man.

I watched as conservative Iowans filed, from minus 20 temperatures, into community hubs to participate in the purest, simplest form of democracy.

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The process is fascinating. At 1,600 precincts across the state, they gathered to listen to surrogates for the Republican candidates telling their friends and neighbours why their candidate is the one.

The process is organic, with people arriving undecided, and there is jeopardy too.

The Trump surrogate at the sports hall we visited flipped at the last moment, upset that a local political celebrity hadn’t turned up. Another Trump supporter stepped in and seemed to win over the crowd.

Donald Trump in Indianola, Iowa, on Sunday. Pic :AP
Image:
Donald Trump in Indianola, Iowa, on Sunday. Pic: AP

After hearing the three-minute stump pitches, it was time to choose.

On slips of paper, they wrote down their chosen candidate. Then on a table in the middle of the sports hall, the slips were totted up. It was that simple.

Why Trump for so many?

Well, they were by no means all devotees. I spoke to plenty with reservations about his principles and his style.

Read more:
What are caucuses and why is Iowa so important?
Farage says war wouldn’t have happened under Trump
This year’s US election will shape the rest of the world

A Trump supporter in Des Moines, Iowa. Pic: AP
Image:
A Trump supporter in Des Moines, Iowa. Pic: AP

It was about strength for them all – strength to stand up to the “establishment”, strength to turn America away from President Joe Biden, and strength to stand up to Putin and Xi.

For them, it was all about security: border security (the Mexican border), national security (Ukraine, the Middle East, China) and financial security (inflation).

There is an irony that the majority chose a candidate accused of ripping American democracy apart.

And they did so with an all-American enthusiasm for politics.

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