Donald Trump wins the Iowa primary, while Haley and DeSantis are vying for second place

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Donald Trump will win the Iowa caucuses, according to an Associated Press projection, giving him his first win in the race for the 2024 Republican nomination.

Trump entered the caucuses with a wide margin in a shrinking field of Republicans vying for the party's presidential nomination, according to opinion polls.

Trump has the support of more than half of potential Republican Party attendees in Iowa, according to the latest reports. Thirty-five eight Average state polls — a lead that was expected to be unassailable, even in a state that has had shocking results in previous caucuses.

“I think we're going to have a great night tonight,” Trump told reporters as he left the hotel Monday afternoon. “The people are amazing, and I've never seen a spirit like theirs.”

The overnight focus in Iowa moves to second place, with Nikki Haley, Trump's former ambassador to the United Nations, in second place, at just under 19 percent, according to the FiveThirtyEight average. She was followed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis with about 16 percent, then biotechnology entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy with about 6 percent.

The winner of the Republican primary race, which will unfold over the coming months and culminate in the party's convention in July, will compete against President Joe Biden in the general election in November.

The Trump campaign was working Monday to ensure voters head to the caucuses, which began in precincts across the Midwestern state at 7 p.m. local time.

Trump's rivals have also been crisscrossing the state in recent days in an 11th-hour effort to narrow his lead.

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Haley has been pushing for a strong second-place finish to solidify her position heading into New Hampshire, the next big test of the Republican primary season. Polls there show a close race with the former South Carolina governor drawing support from moderate Republican voters and independents.

DeSantis spent a lot of time and money campaigning in Iowa, earning the support of some evangelical leaders and the state's governor. But his campaign has faltered and he recently presented himself as the underdog in Monday's caucuses.

“We know we're the underdog and we've been written off before,” James Othmeier, DeSantis' campaign manager, said on CNN on Monday, ahead of the caucuses.

Trump's team was also seeking to manage expectations that he would dominate the caucuses, aware that any failure to meet or beat his poll numbers could sap some momentum ahead of next week's New Hampshire primary.

On Monday, the former president criticized his rivals on social media, in an apparent attempt to increase his votes in Iowa.

Trump wrote on his platform, “Truth Social,” that Haley was unable to win because she lacked support from his electoral base and was a “globalist Reno,” or Republican in name only, while DeSantis was “of lite.”

“Vivek's votes are wasted, and should go to Trump,” he added, referring to the biotech entrepreneur who has repeatedly praised the former president.

The weather in Iowa was expected to wreak havoc on turnout on Monday. Harsh winters are no stranger to the state, but the forecast in the capital, Des Moines, is for a record low of -22 degrees Celsius on caucus night.

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Trump implored voters to show up anyway — and tried to make light of the situation at a rally in Indianola, Iowa, on Sunday afternoon.

“You can't sit at home. If you're sick as a dog, you say: 'Honey, I have to pass'… Even if you vote and then die, it's worth it, remember,” he said.

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