After months of speculation over what the margin of victory would be for Donald Trump in the Iowa Caucus, the former president won in historic fashion.
Trump topped his closest competitor, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, by some 30 points. The previous record was Bob Dole’s nearly 13-percentage-point victory in 1988. The results led Vivek Ramaswamy and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson to suspend their campaigns.
On Tuesday’s show, Megyn was joined by Stu Burguiere, host of BlazeTV’s Stu Does America and Dave Marcus, columnist for Daily Mail and Fox News, to discuss the Iowa result and what it means for the rest of the GOP primary season.
Trump Wins… Big
The question heading into Monday night wasn’t so much who would win but rather how much would they win by. With 95 percent of the vote counted, Trump secured 51 percent, while DeSantis and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley won 21.2 percent and 19.1 percent respectively. Ramaswamy came in fourth with 7.7 percent of the vote.
Trump was declared the winner by the majority of the media a mere 31 minutes after caucusing began, which led to some protests of ‘election interference’ from the DeSantis campaign and others. When all was said and done, the former president won 98 of the Hawkeye State’s 99 counties despite holding fewer campaign events than many of his competitors.
Megyn said Trump’s showing was “stunning” when you consider the mood towards him when he left office in January 2021. “My number one impression watching it last night was: What a stunning, stunning comeback,” she said. “Just go back to after January 6… and how everyone associated with Team Trump was being banned… After all that and four indictments… he does feel untouchable and indestructible and invincible in some ways.”
During his victory speech, Trump struck a surprisingly conciliatory tone, complimenting DeSantis, Haley, and Ramaswamy for their efforts and urging the GOP – and voters at large – to “come together.”
In Burguiere’s view, the softer messaging from Trump shows just how confident he is. While he said a lot of politicians will be “endearing to the public… and to their opponents” when “they’re trying to win over votes,” the former president is the “exact opposite” of that. “When he has that approach [like Monday night]… that’s when he’s 100 percent sure he has won,” Burguiere explained. “When he gets to the point that everything is in his column, he becomes this more magnanimous person.”
The Field Narrows
After teasing a “surprise” showing was on the way in Iowa, Ramaswamy failed to move the needle and received less than 8 percent of the vote. That led the entrepreneur to announce that he would be suspending his campaign and endorsing Trump.
“As I’ve said since the beginning, there are two America First candidates in this race and, earlier tonight, I called Donald Trump to tell him that I congratulated him on his victory,” Ramaswamy said in his concession speech. “And now going forward, he will have my full endorsement for the presidency and I think we’re going to do the right thing for this country.”
Megyn believes Ramaswamy successfully made a name for himself this election cycle. “This has been a very fruitful and consequential run for him,” she said. “His name recognition has gone way up, his social media presence and following has gone way up, and he’s created a lane within the Republican Party… So, I really think he might be like the Tim Scott message of a ‘not no, but not now’ kind of candidate.”
Ramaswamy wasn’t the only GOP hopeful to reassess. Hutchinson – who finished a distant sixth in Iowa behind businessman Ryan Binkley with just 0.2 percent of the vote – also ended his run. “My message of being a principled Republican with experience and telling the truth about the current front-runner did not sell in Iowa,” he said in a statement on Tuesday. “I stand by the campaign I ran.”
While DeSantis and Haley combined were not able to prevent Trump from winning a majority of the caucus vote, both sounded bullish on their futures. While Haley is polling a strong second behind Trump in the New Hampshire primary that will be held next Tuesday, DeSantis seems to have his sights set on South Carolina.
In a speech to her supporters, Haley said her showing in the Hawkeye State proves the field has narrowed further than the ballot may suggest. “When you look at how we’re doing in New Hampshire, in South Carolina, and beyond, I can safely say that tonight, Iowa made this a two-person race,” she declared.
DeSantis, meanwhile, was also triumphant in his remarks. “I can tell you that because of you – in spite of all that they threw at us, everyone against us – we got our ticket punched out of Iowa,” the Florida governor said.
Marcus found the content and delivery of the speech “baffling” given that DeSantis isn’t really expected to compete in New Hampshire and is also polling behind Trump and Haley in South Carolina. “I could be wrong about this, [but] I think Ron DeSantis gave his victory speech last night and it was absolutely bizarre” he said. “He’s talking about George Washington and the Civil War… You lost by a lot… What are you talking about?”
There may not be an obvious path for Haley or DeSantis to catch Trump, but Burguiere said the unpredictability of the current political climate still makes their candidacies viable. “There has to be a second choice in an election like this because of the unique circumstances with Donald Trump,” he concluded. “It’s been 91 [criminal charges] against Donald Trump… I don’t know how it’s going to turn out, but they’re going to go after him and, at some point, they may present a circumstance where you need to go to an alternate.”
You can check out Megyn’s full interview with Burguiere and Marcus by tuning in to episode 703 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.