Historically speaking, if an underdog presidential candidate hopes to break out of the bottom of the pack, the Iowa caucuses offer the best chance to do so. Not only is it the first time voters actually weigh in on a primary election, but the format allows a White House hopeful with a strong ground game in the state to make a case directly to small groups.
With just over a month until the 2024 caucuses, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is clearly banking on a strong performance boosting his chances of taking on front-runner Donald Trump.
Following what was widely seen as a winning performance in Wednesday’s debate, he is now focusing his attention on the Hawkeye State where he will make his final pitch to voters over the next several days.
— The Hill (@thehill) December 8, 2023
“We look forward to building on this momentum as the governor heads back to Iowa tomorrow for a multiday swing,” campaign spokesman Andrew Romeo said following the fourth GOP primary debate.
The latest RealClearPolitics polling average puts DeSantis in second place with 19% support among Iowa Republicans, but he remains far behind Trump, who is polling at an average of 47% in the state.
Nevertheless, DeSantis has collected a number of high-profile endorsements, including from Gov. Kim Reynolds and evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats. He has credited his campaign’s investment of time and other resources in Iowa as a primary factor in his ability to pull ahead of the other non-Trump candidates in the field.
DeSantis recently completed the so-called “Full Grassley,” visiting all 99 counties in the state as long-time Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has traditionally done each year.
Iowa could be the last opportunity for a candidate who entered the race as an extremely popular governor with high expectations of emerging as a competitive Trump rival but has seen his support dwindle over the course of the past several months.
Appearing at a campaign event in the state on Thursday, however, he expressed optimism that his campaign strategy will pay off on Jan. 15.
“A caucus is a little bit different than a primary,” he explained. “People go — two, three hour ordeal — and we’ve got a lot of people that are really committed to that process.
We’ve got the momentum, we’re going forward and we’re just going to bring it all to fruition over the next five and a half weeks.”