Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Why Trump is so popular among Iowa Republicans

Donald Trump hugs Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst.
(Bloomberg photo by Daniel Acker)
Iowa Republicans have welcomed Donald Trump with open arms perhaps more than the GOP in any other state, James Hohmann reports for The Washington Post. Why has the battleground state, with heavy ties to agriculture and a large rural population, given so much support to the Republican presidential candidate whose controversial statements have often caused him to struggle to win over voters in his own party?

"Iowa offers sort of a demographic sweet spot for Trump," Hohmann writes. "More than other states, the Democratic base is still comprised mostly of blue-collar whites. They are less educated and live in places hollowed out by deindustrialization, so Trump’s protectionist message resonates. Trump is likely to run up the score in these more beleaguered rural areas, and he’ll probably get blown out in the suburbs around Des Moines. Republicans want the crossover voters in the outer parts of the state to cast ballots for other GOP candidates."

Another reason: Gov. Terry Branstad and other leading Iowa Republicans have gotten behind Trump, because his performance could affect Iowa's hotly contested House and Senate elections, Hohmann writes. "There are also two very competitive U.S. House races, where Trump’s performance at the top of the ticket may determine whether the first-term GOP incumbents survive," while Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, who has been in office since 1974, is in a much tighter battle than expected.

Another reason is the Iowa caucus, the nation's first presidential voting. Hohmann writes, "GOP leaders believe supporting Trump is necessary to save the caucuses in 2020. Iowans feel their special status kicking off the nominating process is vulnerable and must be safeguarded. The success of Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee in the past three caucuses—and their subsequent failure to win the nomination—gives fodder to the jealous haters on the Republican National Committee who always maneuver behind the scenes to strip the state of influence." (Read more)

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