Democrats seize on Iowa results to campaign on threats posed by Trump

January 17, 2024

Donald Trump’s resounding win on Monday night, January 15, in Iowa has been portrayed as a triumph for the former U.S. president and bad news for those who hoped his attempt to return to the Oval Office would show signs of floundering at the first jump, reports The Guardian-U.S.

Iowa’s Republican caucuses are hardly representative of the nation as a whole, but as the first state to actually cast votes in the 2024 nomination contest, its results were eagerly anticipated across the political spectrum. As they trickled in one message was clear: among Republicans, Trump’s message is still powerful.

Top Democrats, however, did not immediately react to the results with the same level of dismay that might be expected from the dramatic return of their nemesis. Instead it was heralded as an early beginning to the national battle for the White House.

Much reporting suggests Joe Biden’s 2024 campaign team wants to face Trump over other challengers. Doing so would allow them to campaign more on the threat Trump poses than the virtues of Biden himself—an historically unpopular president at this point in his term, blamed for his age, the fact that gas prices were once high; and, perhaps more pressingly, his support of Israel in its offensive in Gaza following the Hamas attacks in October.

Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis both often poll better in a hypothetical matchup with Biden than Trump does. And while various polls show Trump currently edges Biden in several swing states, Biden actually beat Trump once already in 2020. The unstated core of Biden’s campaign is a message that he can do so again.

In that light, the earlier Trump sews up his apparently inevitable nomination, the more time Democrats have to persuade the U.S. electorate that voting for Biden is the lesser of two evils.

Indeed, Biden seized on the Iowa results immediately to begin fundraising.

The Vice President, Kamala Harris—who took the opportunity of Martin Luther King Day to attack Trump on his threat to democracyfollowed up by emphasizing Trump’s central role in overturning Roe v Wade and ending federal protection for reproductive rights—something Democrats could not pin entirely on either DeSantis or Haley, although both also oppose abortion.

Steve Cohen, a Memphis congressman who is the ranking member of the Aviation Subcommittee, weighed in as well, with an unsubtle example of the general anti-Trump 2024 message:

“While the Republican race is not technically over, with a clear frontrunner now in place, it is seen as likely that many more Democrats will join the President and Vice President in focusing their messaging squarely on Trump, regardless of how long Haley and DeSantis cling on.”

Research contact: @GuardianUS