By the time Donald Trump returns to Iowa on Monday, the former Republican president will have drawn more than 10,000 people to his events in the state in less than a month.
There is no guarantee that their crowds will translate into support in the state electoral assemblies of January 15 which will launch the 2024 nomination cycle. But unlike from his 2016 campaign has a more sophisticated organization to capitalize on its high-voltage events and often emphasizes in its comments how to participate in caucuses.
Trump does not downplay expectations that this time he will win Iowa. His advisors want to achieve a victory that will discourage rumors of a second-place finisher consolidating his support and directly confronts the former president.
A traditional measure of campaign organizing in Iowa is the caucus pledge card. People who attend Trump events are asked to sign a pledge to attend the caucuses and support him, providing their contact information so the campaign can inquire about volunteering and find others to attend.
After Trump finished second in 2016 to Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a mixed bag effort of big crowds but little organization, state Republican staff cleaned out his caucus campaign office and found thousands of signed pledge cards that had never been there. been registered.
This time, their campaign aims to enter each card into its database in one day and call each signer within two days. He collected 1,200 cards from two events on Oct. 7 from about 4,000 people who attended.
“I can promise you there are no delays,” said Alex Latcham, Trump's senior adviser and initial states coordinator.
Trump plans to headline a caucus-building event in central Iowa in burgeoning Dallas County, west of Des Moines, and a speaking event in the city's Republican-leaning western suburbs on Monday.
When he launched his bid for the presidency, Trump memorably wasn't sure what a caucus was. The extravagant contests – more than 1,600 simultaneous neighborhood-level political meetings in which party members publicly register their presidential preference – are not state-sanctioned primaries and require intense organizing to have supporters in each location.
During a campaign stop in Cedar Rapids this month, Trump went from attacking New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is carrying out a civil suit against him to remind your audience of the basics of participating in caucuses.
“There are very big and powerful elections approaching. "Here it's called a caucus," Trump said before about 2,500 people inside a hotel ballroom. «And they have to leave at 7 pm on Monday, January 15. "We ask you to commit to the caucus and bring five, seven or ten maybe, as many as you can, because we have to win big."
It has gotten thousands of commitments. But not every partisan equals a caucus vote.
Rick and Nancy Anderson of Ottumwa are devout Trump supporters, particularly attached to his ideas on energy and maximizing American oil production.
But when asked if they would meet with Trump, Rick Anderson said: “No. “We live in Florida in the winter.”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis one of Trump's main rivals for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, is betting that, despite a slow late summer campaign and an organizational shakeup, a full focus on Iowa and the potential benefits of reaching every county They could allow him to stress more populous counties in the future, perhaps cutting into Trump's potential margin.
Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley who has drawn renewed interest after two strong performances in the GOP presidential debate, plans to return to Iowa next week for the fourth time in the last month.
There is no doubt that Trump has the advantage, said David Kochel, who has advised Republican presidential candidates, including their caucus campaigns. But Kochel says Trump also has something to prove.
“It matters how far Trump is from the No. 2 person, assuming Trump wins Iowa, and how far away the No. 2 person is, assuming it's not Trump, and the rest of the field,” he said. "Those are things we can't know yet."