The 2024 presidential election has officially begun with the Iowa Republican caucus. But while the caucus usually provides a good look at who the nominee will be, this year may be a little different. Like many states, Iowa has been battered with a winter storm that is "pretty extraordinary," according to BlazeTV host and Iowa resident, Steve Deace. Steve joins Glenn to give his take on how many people will brave the snow to vote and which candidate's supporters will be the most willing to do so. Plus, he predicts how the top candidates will fare against former president Donald Trump. Will Democrats boost Nikki Haley's turnout? Will Vivek Ramaswamy beat the polling numbers? Will Ron DeSantis - Deace's preferred candidate - score a surprise victory? Or will Trump dominate the field?
Below is a rush transcript that may contain errors
GLENN: Steve, what does it feel like on the ground in Iowa.
What's the temperature?
STEVE: Right now, it's minus eight. And I want to scream that like the publisher in Elf. Minus eight.
It is -- Glenn, I've lived in this same house for 17 years. I've never seen snowdrifts in my front walk this high.
This is soul-crushing, go in a corner, and begin self-harm levels of cold.
GLENN: Oh, Steve. Buck up, man!
If Kansas City -- if Kansas City could play on Saturday, in negative four, without sleeves, certainly you can get out of your house.
STEVE: Well, some of us are going to.
GLENN: Yeah, I know.
STEVE: Comparing the average high, which is the best athletes in America -- but some of us are going to.
And that's the thing though, Glenn. I don't know what some of us will.
I went to the last, the campaign closing event for Ron DeSantis last night. And even in one of our largest suburbs of Ankeny, to get uphill, I still had to go four-wheel drive in residential areas, three days after this snow left.
The blowing, the drifting. Most of our residential areas are covered in ice.
Sheets of ice. Our school kids in the metros are looking at maybe a five-day weekend between the closures last week, and then today is a holiday. And then probably tomorrow as well.
GLENN: Wow! And you guys never close. You never los schools there, right?
STEVE: It's got to take a lot, man.
STEVE: We have this thing called winter every year. And the caucuses are usually January and February.
This is pretty extraordinarily.
There are wind chill warnings across the state. Literally telling people, not to go outside.
It is -- the turnout model tonight, is going to be very fascinating.
I have no idea what will happen.
I really don't.
GLENN: Well, there you go. Yet another victim of global cooling. Global warming.
Or whatever it is.
So who do you think is the most motivated people?
You know, I read about Nikki Haley's crew. And the latest poll shows she only has about 9 percent of those who are behind her. Really exhilarated by her campaign.
GLENN: So between that and now the Democrats saying, they are going to show up and caucus for her, is she going to actually perform at that 20 percent that the -- the register said she was going to perform at tonight?
STEVE: No. That poll is a first to her. It really raised expectations for her campaign. Because most people are just going to read the top line. And not the cross tabs. And if you read the cross tabs, basically, her base of people isn't motivated to vote for her. And prefer Biden in the general election.
So if I don't know how many Republicans are going to show up in this weather and sit around for an hour in this caucus, I sure as hell don't think there will be a lot of Democrats and independents, that want to want to come in and hang out with people they don't like, all right?
And brave this weather. So I actually -- if you made me make one prediction, I -- I would predict, I think she's going to finish closer to Vivek Ramaswamy tonight.
Than -- than to Ron DeSantis.
I think that has largely been astroturfed this entire time.
The Des Moines Register is wrong. Every caucus cycle, I have no idea why it's hold up as the gold standard.
It's held up as the gold standard. It's wrong every cycle.
It's held up by the same people that tell you it's the gold standard. Told you a couple of winters ago.
And Chinese face diapers are 99 percent effective against airborne contagions.
Okay? So it's just, never right at all.
I would go by the behavior of the campaigns. They know better than anyone else.
They have the best data. But they have the best observation.
I think the fact the former president hustled to get up here one final time over the weekend. I doubt he's concerned about losing. He's probably more concerned. He has to cover a spread.
Like, Glenn, he's been favored by 50 points in these polls all year.
He wins tonight by 9 or 10. People are going to be like, what the hell is going on? So he's probably concerned about that.
And now you're starting to see late in the process, the organization that the DeSantis campaign built, which was patterned a lot of what we built on the Cruz campaign in 2016 here.
They've done it even better I think. Now you're seeing it harvest or fruition. So I think he will overperform. To what extent?
I don't know.
I could see him getting anywhere from 20 to 38. I could see Trump getting anywhere from 35 to 50.
I think it's that volatile, with the turnout model right now. Because of the weather and everything here in Iowa.
GLENN: I know that you are -- you know, you've jumped on the DeSantis bandwagon.
So try to be as fair as you can on this.
Who has the most walk through a wall of fire. Or in this case, walk through an ice storm, to vote?
STEVE: I think that's clearly the former president. But I think people need to understand this. And you know this.
Because you came to campaign with Cruz. You saw this with your own eyes.
The evangelical base in Iowa.
It's not like what you see in many states for Donald Trump.
It's admiration. Not adulation. You know, so, for example, he won our state in the general election twice.
No Republican has done that since Reagan.
He was instrumental. You know, people like me, that worked for ten years. To try to make Iowa look like Texas.
You know, the last nut we couldn't crack, is we couldn't convince rural counties to vote Republican, because they thought we were all corporatists.
And trump was kind of the last. He was the last ingredient in the formula here, to help flip this state red, by flipping about 30 counties that voted for Obama once or twice. He flipped them to vote for him twice. So he is popular here.
But Iowans take this process.
GLENN: Very seriously. Yeah. They do. They do.
I wish the -- I wish the rest of the country, took it as seriously as Iowa does.
I mean, I was going on the road. I was shocked. They are a year out, and they are already gathering together, in their towns.
And listening to campaign speeches.
I mean, they take it very seriously.
And I think that's great.
STEVE: Yes, and so I think they are able to look at, for example. They can say, hey, I love what the former president has done for rural Iowa. It's been great.
We are one of the states.
I know there's a big debate in the Republican Party right now. What the Trump brand has done with places like suburban states and mixed urban states.
But in a rural state like Iowa, he's been a benefit. There's no question about that.
But Iowans are also able to say, yeah, just because I liked him before, doesn't mean I like him again.
So I think that there will be some soft Trump supporters that will flip to DeSantis tonight. Based on the strength of his organization. What that number will be, though. I have absolutely no idea. I mean, I really don't.
GLENN: Where will -- where will Nikki Haley's voters go if they flip?
STEVE: I don't know how many voters she has. First of all, I think she's relying a lot on people that don't traditionally vote Republican.
And just so people understand what I mean by turnout models, you know, typically we get about 25 or 26 percent of Republicans will turn out in a caucus. This year, it will be less.
Because we have more Republicans in Iowa, than ever before. About 670,000. So if we have, say, a turnout of 150,000. Which I think would be pretty good, in this weather.
You're talking about almost only one out of every six Republicans is showing up to vote here. Okay?
So if most -- in most of her -- and people ask, why is that?
Because in the caucus, you vote the way the Founding Fathers did. You don't show up, pull a curtain on your break and walk out. All right?
You show up. You listen to speeches. Maybe you'll be called on to give a speech.
You may be asked to give an account for why you're voting the way you are.
Or you can volunteer to do that. Horse trading goes on there. Party business goes on there. The process can take an hour or more in some places, depending on how large the precinct is.
So you have to be really committed to wanting to be part of the process, to take part of the caucus. And that's just not the kinds of people that typically vote for Nikki Haley. She's basically, the John Kasich of this cycle.
Why do you suppose -- I mean, I have my opinions.
Why do you suppose DeSantis, who before this race started, seemed like it could be a lot closer between him and Donald Trump.
And it just hasn't materialized.
It did at first.
And then it just kind of dissipated.
STEVE: Well, if you go in and -- I think, let's find out what happens tonight. I think tonight will give us -- I'll probably be able to answer this question more for you tomorrow, in terms of both its premise and application, based on what happens tonight.
Preemptively, you know, if you look at the Real Clear Politics. National polling average on March 30th. It was something like 42 Trump, thirty-two DeSantis.
And he wouldn't even be a candidate for another almost two months.
STEVE: A week later on April 6th, Trump is now up from 54 to 25. So what happens?
DeSantis isn't even a candidate.
What happened is on March 31st, Donald Trump got indicted by Alvin Bragg.
And the biggest pinning poll of this cycle, has been, what's happening to Trump is wrong.
So you have these -- you have these dual, you know, about philosophies. Trump can't win another -- another national election. We've lost every national election cycle. Since he miraculously won in 2016. Versus vis-à-vis, what he's doing to him is wrong, it's un-American.
And I want him to return, like MacArthur in the Philippines, and we will finish this script. And if you look at the internals of a lot of the polls that had him way ahead of DeSantis. What you'll see, in favorabilities, DeSantis is either even with Trump or often ahead. And I think the biggest cell that Ron DeSantis had to make. I think there's a lot of people. I think what people like you and me on Twitter, that we've destroyed Ron DeSantis' plan. You know, these Trump influencers. That's just not true.
If it were, his favorables would have plummeted. I think what DeSantis has had to do. He has to make this sale, that his time is now.
And I think people are torn between, do we turn the page from Trump or do we finish the script from Trump.
And that's why I said, I want to see and wait what happens tonight, to give you a more definitive answer. Because I think this will be the first verdict on, how successful can you be, convincing people that Trump's time is passed, and it's your time now, as opposed to 2028.
GLENN: And if he falls into third, you think he's done, or not.
STEVE: I would be stunned if he finished third. I would be stunned.
GLENN: Yeah. I would too.
STEVE: There's two things I'm confident in. It will be a disappointing turnout. And he will overperform. But I don't know what overperform is. Could it be 22, could it be 38? Forty?
I think -- when we're talking rural America, rural Iowa, where Trump needs huge turnouts. And people may need to drive tractors to get to precinct sites, given what's going on now.
You know, the average Fox News viewer is 69 years old, as you well know. Those are very supportive of Trump.
I don't know how many of those people are going to come out in this weather, given their health and the dangers of the ice and everything else. I just don't know the answer to that.
GLENN: Okay. Hang on just a second. Steve Deace.
He's the author of The Rise of the Fourth Reich. And also a BlazeTV personality. Follows this program. He is in Iowa, lives in Iowa. Has been there forever. And can really give us insight on what's happening in Iowa.
GLENN: All right. Steve, I don't know if they asked you. Because we have such little time. How long can you stay with me?
STEVE: I've got -- you know what, I stayed late, so I'm not on the cell on the way to the office, but I have to go in like 20 minutes.
GLENN: Okay. Tell me about the kerfuffle, if you will, between Donald Trump and Ramaswamy this weekend.
STEVE: Here's -- I have -- what I think is two-fold.
You know, we have -- in a lot of these races. You have these under the radar issues. That don't penetrate the national coverage.
In Iowa right now.
In northwest Iowa, where we have a large concentration of Republicans.
There is a huge deal with eminent domain.
And there's Republican Party interests on both sides of it.
Some want the fuel to go through the community.
Others want to keep their farm.
This is a very divisive issue on the right, right now in Iowa.
And Vivek, after he didn't qualify for the debate.
Has focused a lot of his energy on the issue.
Number one, I think the Trump campaign is concerned.
That he may be drawing from some of their rural support.
And if they're concerned about winning. Or likely, meeting expectations.
If Vivek gets four, five, six points higher than the polls tonight.
It will be at Trump's expense. And no one else's.
They're also concerned about that.
Also, one of the guys I met in this process. A tech entrepreneur, a successful guy named Robert Salvador. And he is trying to bring AI to public polling.
And using AI to basically look at people's digital footprints. What they're actually posting in public on their social media pages.
That's more honest what they think, than what they tell pollsters. What he's seeing is an uptick in the last couple of weeks.
DeSantis', but also Vivek.
And if you know, Trump is the one candidate on the right, going back to 2016 with others, who really understood how to use data. Cambridge Analytical, all that kind of stuff, to his advantage, the world he lives in.
And I also wonder, if they're seeing, that increase in Vivek's digital footprints as well.
I think they're concerned, that Vivek may play a role, in either him winning tonight. Or more likely, him meeting expectations.
So I think order 62 came out.
GLENN: So we have only two minutes. And Vivek Ramiswami joins me after the break here, at the bottom of the hour, in just a few minutes.
We're talking to Steve Deace.
Steve, do you think that the Democrats did the indictments, and all of this stuff, to help Donald Trump win the primary.
Or is this something that is backfiring on them.
STEVE: Yes. I do. I absolutely think that they believe they did this in 2016. He got 60 times more coverage than any other candidate because they thought he was a clown and they could beat him. And then this blew up in their faces.
And I think that's what enraged him all the more. I think the same thing. They have a formula for how to brand him, particularly to suburban voters.
It has worked in every election cycle since. I do think that's the case. And, yes. I also think it's backfiring on them.
Because, you know, they're basically the -- the mob outside, Glenn. They can't contain themselves.
So Jack Smith had this well-thought out plan. Then all of a sudden the state of Colorado said, we'll jump in line, and disqualify him for the ballot now before you can hatch your plan.
There's two things in American politics, Glenn, you can always count on: Republican gutlessness and Democrats absolutely exceeding their mandate and creating blowback against themselves as a result, those are the two constants.
GLENN: All right. Steve, thank you so much.
We'll talk to you, again, hopefully tomorrow. And blessings on the people of Iowa. Stay safe tonight. But please, if you can, go out and caucus for your candidate.
Iowa is -- is one of the states, I think Natches is as well.
That really take it seriously. For an extended period of time.
And Iowa, your chance to be heard, is today.
Go out and caucus tonight.