Former United States President Donald Trump has decisively won the Iowa caucuses, cementing his Republican frontrunner status as he bids to retake the White House in 2024.
Trump beat former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in a widely expected result on Monday, taking him a step closer to securing a third consecutive nomination for the presidency.
Trump won at least 17 of the 40 delegates, with Haley and DeSantis taking five each, provisional tallies showed, with US media outlets calling the state-wide contest about 30 minutes after the start of voting.
Trump’s commanding victory points to his continuing dominance over the Republican Party, even as he faces mounting legal woes, including four criminal indictments.
On Tuesday, Trump is expected to appear in court in New York as a jury considers whether he should pay further damages to a writer who won a $5 million jury award against him for sexual assault and defamation.
Trump’s legal challenges have done little to dampen his support among Republicans, many of whom view the cases against him as politically motivated.
Iowa has a mixed record of predicting the eventual Republican nominee; George W. Bush was the last GOP presidential candidate to win the state in 2000.
But the largely rural Midwestern state is seen as an important springboard for candidates competing for delegates in New Hampshire, Nevada and
Iowans braved dangerously cold weather to gather at more than 1,600 schools, community centres and other sites for the first vote in the 2024 presidential race.
Ahead of the Iowa caucuses, Trump’s lock on the Republican grassroots was clear, with polls showing the businessman-turned-politician having a double-digit lead over his rivals.
Many Republican voters in Iowa cast Trump as the best candidate to address their concerns about the economy, record levels of refugee and migrant arrivals at the southern border and global instability.