Conversations and insights about the moment. – PPT News

In the 2016 Iowa caucuses, Donald Trump finished a lackluster third place, behind Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio in Dallas County, just west of Des Moines. This time around, his presidential campaign was banking on a show of strength among the same suburban voters — many of them professionals and college graduates in middle- and upper-income brackets.

And Trump had a happier night than eight years ago.

On Monday night, at the Van Meter school caucus site, southwest of Des Moines, voters told me that they were excited to support Trump and felt he had come a long way from his 2016 loss.

“People have seen he’s proven himself,” said Charleen Kinsey, a Trump supporter, when asked about 2016 compared with this year. “They have seen what he has done and how it’s worked. So I think there’s the difference.”

She added, “And as far as California and New York, we can just shove them off the — sorry — East, West Coast need to go.”

Dylan Book, another Trump voter, said there were no wars between 2016 and 2020.

“Everybody was thriving,” he said. “Stock market was thriving. Businesses were thriving. I grew my business from 2016 to 2020 like crazy. And the last four years have been pretty rough.”

As the caucus got underway, a Nikki Haley supporter, Joel Akers, made a pitch to the roughly 200 voters in the audience. She was “the only candidate who clearly beats” Joe Biden in the polls, he said, stressing her electability. But he also noted that he voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020.

“Then Jan. 6 happened,” Akers said. “He didn’t do a lot to stop it.” He said Trump was “disrespectful” to the peaceful transfer of power. No one booed Akers, but the next speaker, Jason Smith, a congressman from Missouri and a Trump supporter, got stronger applause for remarks that leaned on memories of Trump’s time in office.

Across Iowa, in town and city, you really feel an affinity for Trump among a lot of Republicans and conservatives. Few bring up Jan. 6, as Akers did. Of course, caucus voters tend to be the most hard-core segment of the Republican base.

But given their first chance in more than three years to cast a ballot once more for Trump, it’s clear that a lot of people are voting with their hearts even more than their heads.

In the end, Trump did much better than he did in 2016, but it wasn’t a blowout with the suburbanites. The final vote tally from the gym at Van Meter High School: Trump, 85 votes; Ron DeSantis, 79; Haley, 64; and Vivek Ramaswamy, 21.

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