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One year until Iowa caucuses, Trump's path is more complicated than before

Donald Trump
Posted at 3:00 AM, Feb 02, 2023

ROCK RAPIDS, Iowa — The next presidential election may seem like it's far away, but in reality, it's not.

In just about a year, people will be casting votes in the first presidential primaries.

That means major decisions are expected by governors, senators, a former vice president and even the current president in the coming weeks.

FOCUS ON IOWA

When you start to talk about presidential elections, it makes sense to start with Iowa.

After all, Iowa typically kicks off the primary calendar with the first-in-the-nation caucuses.

That is expected to be the case again in 2024, at least for Republicans.

With former President Donald Trump running again for the Republican nomination, a major question is whether his name in the state is the same as it once was.

For answers, we went to a very specific part of Iowa — Rock Rapids. Why this small town in the northwest corner of the state? More than 82% of Lyons County voted for Trump in 2020. No other county had more Trump support by percentage.

If Trump is going to cruise to the nomination again, there would be signs of it here.

"This is the heart of Republican politics," said Cody Hoefert, a longtime leader of Republican politics in the county.

Hoefert recently retired, giving him freedom to speak his mind.

"I think, obviously, President Trump still has a lot of support here and standing, but I think there are opportunities for other candidates," Hoefert said.

"It is kind of a clean slate — you have to earn these voters every four years," Hoefert added.

Some of the voters from whom Trump will need support are members of the "Golden Oldies."

Diana and Dean Feucht said they still support the former president.

"What I liked about him is the policies that he had," Dean added.

However, there is a craving for others to get into the race.

"We need new blood, younger candidates," Bruce Metzger said.

"I like Nikki Haley," he added about the former South Carolina governor who became Trump's United Nations ambassador.

"I'll never vote for Trump," Howard Mogler, a longtime Republican, said.

"I hope DeSantis runs — he seems honest and respects his people," Mogler added.

That perspective is consistent with some national polls, which suggest a competitive caucus is on the horizon.

NOT FOR DEMOCRATS

However, that won't necessarily be true for Democrats. In the Iowa State Capitol, Democrats are frantically trying to save their political tradition after President Joe Biden suggested Iowa lose its first-in-the-nation status.

"We are disappointed," said Iowa Democratic House Jennifer Konfrst.

The president wants South Carolina to go first after criticism emerged that Iowa lacks diversity and caucusing is too time-consuming.

Konfrst is trying to convince national Democrats that the criticism is misplaced.

In an effort to change minds, Democrats in Iowa have agreed to make the caucus more accessible with early voting options.

"If you give up on states like Iowa, pretty soon you are giving up a lot of the Heartland," Konfrst said.

So, while 2023 may just be beginning, 2024 campaigning will intensify soon.

Iowa, for Republicans at least, is poised to matter significantly, again.

"In Iowa, politics never ends," Hoefert said.