Washington DC, January 16: Former US President Donald Trump registered a huge victory with unprecedented margin at the Iowa caucuses, further demonstrating the hold he maintains over the party as well as its supporters, as he closed in for a 2020 rematch contest with incumbent Joe Biden. According to the latest figures reported by CNN with 99 per cent results registered, Trump has won 20 out of the 40 delegates from Iowa with 56,250 votes -- a whopping difference of around 32,840 votes.

Notably, Trump kickstarted his bid to win party's third consecutive presidential nomination despite skipping the GOP primary debates. The results also demonstrated how 'devoted' Republicans remain to Trump amid his highly unusual campaign -- one being waged between court appearances, indictments and removal from ballots. Donald Trump Wins Iowa Republican Caucus: Former US President Wins Iowa’s Leadoff Voting Contest, Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley Battle for Second Place.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis came a distant second with eight delegates and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley finishing not much behind with seven delegates as the contest moves to New Hampshire, where the latter enjoys some clout.

Trump who came one step closer to the Republican nomination, deviated from his usual attacking style and congratulated his GOP rivals. He called DeSantis, Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy as "very smart people, very capable people", CNN reported. But his message to his primary opponents couldn't have been clearer: It's time to get out and get on board. "It's just so important, and I want to make that a very big part of our message: We're going to come together. It's going to happen soon, too," Trump said. Vivek Ramaswamy Drops Out of Republican Presidential Race, Endorses Former US President Donald Trump: Report.

Another major takeaway was the contest turning into a three-way race with Ramaswamy dropping out of his White House bid. However, Trump continues to lead with a whopping margin. The Iowa caucus victory is considered the first step in Donald Trump's bid to claim the Republican nomination in a third consecutive election. Incidentally, Trump had lost in the State eight years ago to Senator Ted Cruz, according to The Hill.

Also, the entrance polls showed the breadth of Trump's support across the GOP's key constituencies 53 per cent of White evangelical Christians backed Trump, to DeSantis' 27 per cent and Haley's 13 per cent -- figures that underscore why Trump is the heavy favourite in South Carolina - where evangelicals make up a huge share of the party's primary electorate - even though it's Haley's home state, according to CNN.

On the other hand, the college graduates split somewhat evenly between Trump, Haley and DeSantis. But Trump dominated those without a college degree, with 67 per cent support. Meanwhile, Haley and DeSantis, while speaking to supporters after Trump had taken his victory lap, both vowed to continue their campaigns.

Notably, Haley, is within a difference of single digits of Trump in New Hampshire, polls show, CNN reported. She's hoping to capitalize on a more moderate primary electorate there -- and use it as a launchpad to effectively clear the field and position herself as the party's lone Trump alternative. "I can safely say, tonight, Iowa made this Republican primary a two-person race," she told supporters.

As the race shifts to more favourable territory for Haley, she used her speech Monday night in Iowa to argue she's the 'antidote' to a Biden-Trump rematch. Haley argued that the majority of Americans disapprove of both the current and the former president and insisted that her campaign is "the last best hope of stopping the Trump-Biden nightmare." While she congratulated Trump on his win, she argued that the former president and Biden share "more in common than you think." "Trump and Biden both lack a vision for our country's future because both are consumed by the past, by investigations, by vendettas, by grievances. America deserves better," CNN quoted her as saying.

Florida Governor DeSantis, who was declared the second-place finisher in the caucuses told supporters that he had survived having "everything but the kitchen sink" thrown at him in Iowa, as he vowed to continue his campaign. DeSantis campaigned very hard in Iowa, completed the "full Grassley" -- visiting all 99 counties. He also had the endorsement of the popular governor, Kim Reynolds. But, ultimately, he was able to manage a distant second-place finish, behind a former president who hardly campaigned in Iowa and a late-rising rival who has long been much more focused on New Hampshire, CNN reported.

However, he's entering what could be a 'difficult stretch', with polls showing him far behind Trump and Haley in New Hampshire. "We've got our ticket punched out of Iowa," the Florida governor said. DeSantis is set to visit South Carolina, Haley's home state, on Tuesday before heading to New Hampshire, the arena of next GOP contest.

Although, Haley has served the state as governor, but primary voters there could more closely align with DeSantis' politics, according to CNN. He would be aiming to upset Haley on her home turf in the February 24 primary and propel into Super Tuesday on March 5 with momentum.

Another significant development after Iowa results was Indian-American entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy dropping out of the 2024 Republican presidential race after finishing fourth in the Iowa caucuses. He has endorsed former President Donald Trump and urged Republican voters to put an "America First patriot" in the White House. Taking to social media platform X, Ramaswamy stated, "This entire campaign is about speaking the TRUTH. We did not achieve our goal tonight, & we need an America-First patriot in the White House. The people spoke loud & clear about who they want. Tonight I am suspending my campaign and endorsing Donald J. Trump and will do everything I can to make sure he is the next U.S. President."

The 38-year-old political novice said at a press conference at Des Moines, "There is no path for me to be the next president absent things that we don't want to see happen in this country," as reported by the Washington Post.

"We did not achieve the surprise we wanted to deliver tonight," Ramaswamy said.

The biotech entrepreneur said he plans to appear with Trump in New Hampshire at a Tuesday evening rally. He further expressed his support for Trump, adding that he is extremely proud of the team, the movement, and the country. "Earlier tonight I called Donald Trump to tell him that I congratulate him on his victory. And now going forward, he will have my full endorsement for the presidency," Ramaswamy said.

Ramaswamy had been one of Trump's staunchest defenders against the four indictments levelled against him. He pledged to remove himself from the ballots in Colorado and Maine after the former president was disqualified from the two states. He even vowed to pardon Trump of all charges on his first day in office.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump is leading incumbent President Joe Biden in key swing states that will decide the fate of the 2024 presidential race, The Hill reported. Trump leads Biden in hypothetical match-ups both with and without third-party options on the ballot in states including Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Arizona, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, according to fresh polling.

A CNN poll earlier showed Trump leading Biden by 5 percentage points in Georgia, a state Biden carried in 2020 by roughly 12,000 votes. The poll also found Trump leading Biden by 10 points in Michigan, where Biden won by about 1,55,000 votes in 2020.

However, the road ahead is not easy for the former president as he continues to face substantial challenges to his campaign, including multiple criminal indictments and ongoing legal battles in courtrooms across the country. In a handful of states, he even faces efforts to remove him from the ballot. Last month, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that Trump is 'disqualified' from competing in the race under the 14th Amendment's insurrection clause, finding that he violated his oath with his actions around January 6, 2021. Maine's Secretary of State also disqualified Trump under the 14th Amendment, The Hill reported.

But Trump has framed his legal issues as "political attacks" arguing he is the victim of a "witch hunt" as he vies for another term. The next US presidential election is scheduled for November 5, 2024.

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