Friday marks one month until the Iowa caucuses, which is the first contest in the Republican race for president.
While former President Trump is ahead in the polls by a wide margin, challengers like Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy still believe they have a shot at an upset victory in the Hawkeye State.
Talking to Trump supporters
You can read the polls and watch debates, but the best way to understand the state of the race for president in 2024 is to actually talk to voters. And there is no better first stop in understanding the popularity of Trump than one of his rallies.
“We don’t think anything is wrong with Trump,” Ellen Johnston, a longtime supporter, told Scripps News Deputy Political Director Joe St. George.
“Even after January 6th, even after the indictments?” St. George asked.
“Yes,” Johnston said.
One of the first things you learn at a Trump rally is that among his most loyal supporters, nothing has happened in recent years that has changed their minds. In fact, his support appears to be growing again.
Joann Sweeting, after eight years of Trump doing rallies, decided to come to one for the first time.
“Longtime supporter, first time at a rally,” Sweeting said.
Rick Wensel says it’s the cost of food that’s motivating him this election season.
“That’s the biggest issue, food costs,” he said. “If you don’t eat, you don’t survive.”
However, the most interesting person we may have met in Iowa was Joseph Pira.
“I voted for Joe Biden,” he told Scripps News. “Yah, I totally flipped sides.”
Pira said right now he sees himself voting Republican next year because of the economy. However, he also said that if Trump is convicted of felonies that it would sway his vote.
“Someone in office has to be not a convicted person,” Pira added.
David and Goliath
Bob Vander Plaats runs the Iowa-based The Family Leader and is a top evangelical in the state.
“Iowans historically break late,” Vander Plaats said.
He has picked every caucus winner since 2008, and has endorsed DeSantis instead of Trump this time around. Vander Plaats believes an Iowa surprise is still possible — believing DeSantis’ ground game is underappreciated.
“It will shock the nation,” Vander Plaats added. “It will shock the world if Trump doesn’t win Iowa caucuses. I don’t think it will shock Iowa so much.”