Who will win Iowa Caucuses: The key voter group that could determine winner

Political Reporter Charles Benson is in Iowa talking with voters.
Posted at 8:26 AM, Jan 16, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-16 09:26:37-05

It is written that you can’t really win the Republican Iowa caucus unless you win over evangelicals.

"That's true," said Michael Demastus, Pastor at Fort Des Moines Church of Christ.

He’s been here 27 years.

Iowa evangelicals are not necessarily monolithic when voting, but Pastor Mike says, "they see life through the lens of God’s word."

"Our faith leads. Our faith goes to caucus sites," said Pastor Demastus. "Our faith goes into every area of our lives. It’s not just like, 'it’s Sunday, it’s church time.' For most evangelicals, our faith impacts every arena of our lives."

A new NBC Des Moines Register poll shows former President Donald Trump with a solid lead among evangelicals in Iowa – with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis a distant second.

Trump is touting endorsements from faith leaders from every county in the state.

But DeSantis has won the influential endorsement of Bob Vander Plaats — a key Christian conservative who has picked the eventual winner every time since 2008.

"This is like the first round of interviews in a job. Our job is to give America a choice and I believe Iowa will have done its job," said Vander Plaats.

But there’s a wide range of issues that concern Iowa voters.

Hannah Hooper — a former police officer who has been knocking on doors for Nikki Haley — finally got to meet her choice for president at a Haley rally in Iowa city and likes what she hears

"I would love to see more support for mental health, especially for law enforcement," said Hooper, who plans to caucus with her 70-year old grandmother.

CJ Canton was at the Haley rally but plans to caucus for DeSantis — but he’s not optimistic about either.

"I think both of them are behind Trump, honestly," Canton says.

When asked if anyone can beat Trump, Canton said, "I wouldn’t put money on it."

Drew Kubinski was enjoying a Saturday lunch with family and friends at the Bluebird Diner in Iowa city. He’s still thinking about a third-party candidate.

The candidates made their final pitch to Iowans over the weekend, but the path to victory in the caucuses is only attainable through turnout. Caucus night this election season expected to be the coldest on-record.