After weeks of polling reflected former President Donald Trump’s overwhelming lead ahead of Monday’s Iowa caucuses, media projections of his victory began to surface just minutes after the voting began.
While those forecasts proved accurate with Trump securing more than half of all votes cast and winning outright in all but one of the state’s 99 counties, some voters who supported other candidates — most notably Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — claimed that the early projections played an inappropriate role in influencing the results.
They are calling it as the caucus sites are still ongoing. If that isn’t election interference I don’t know what is. They are literally trying to force people to go home because it’s already over according to the news networks. In 2024 news travels fast. We’ve become a…
— Nick Stelzner (@stelzner_n1150) January 16, 2024
In a social media post citing one such media report, DeSantis campaign spokesperson Christina Pushaw wrote: “When Fox sent out this ‘breaking news’ people in the precinct I was monitoring in Des Moines were still speaking and had not even cast votes. Corporate media election interference.”
Andrew Romeo, the governor’s communications director, claimed that the “media is in the tank for Trump and this is the most egregious example yet.”
Of course, his assertion seemed to be at odds with the widespread hand-wringing by mainstream media sources after the caucus was called for Trump.
“Absolutely outrageous that the media would participate in election interference by calling the race before tens of thousands of Iowans even had a chance to vote,” Romeo added.
DeSantis bet big on Iowa, visiting every county as part of his campaign to make a strong impression to start the primary process. While he did achieve a distant second-place finish behind Trump, the third-place finisher, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, has a substantial lead over DeSantis in the upcoming New Hampshire primary.
Finishing second, combined with entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy’s decision to drop out of the race, might allow the Florida governor to continue his campaign. Prior to the caucus, a number of pundits speculated that if DeSantis finished third he would probably be forced to suspend his campaign.
“The question is really does DeSantis drop out?” asked University of New Hampshire political science professor Andrew Smith prior to Monday’s caucus. “I don’t think he’s going to win, but if he finishes a distant third, he’s going to drop out. I mean, he has nowhere to go after that.”