Trump’s Early Projection As Iowa Primary Winner Breeds Controversy

Former President Donald Trump scored a solid victory during Monday’s Iowa caucuses. Carting away a whopping 51% support of about 90% of the votes counted, he established himself as the clear voters’ favorite in the state. However, his victory has been clouded by controversy over one issue – an early call.

The caucuses that would kickstart the GOP’s 2024 nominating process for the 2024 election was scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET or 7 p.m. CT across close to 730 venues. About thirty minutes into the voting process, projections started popping out from major media outlets declaring Trump as the winner.

The Associated Press was one of the first media outlets to make the early call, putting out the projection when only 0.545 of results had been out, according to Axios.

Before 9 p.m. ET when voting closed, other major news outlets including Fox News, NBC News and even CNN had projected a Trump win.

When the votes had all been counted and Trump was declared the winner as expected, the early call was all his critics and political opponents could talk about. People on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ team went as far as accusing the news organizations of “election interference,” a claim DeSantis himself echoed during his post-caucus speech that night.

“They, the media, was against us. They were writing our obituary months ago,” he said to his supporters amid cheers. “They even called the election before people got the chance to vote. But they were just so excited about the fact that they were projecting that we won’t be able to get our ticket punched here out of Iowa.”

While the early projections did not stop the votes from being counted, many have made the case that the voting process could have been impacted anyway, as voters’ decisions could have been influenced seeing that Trump was leading the other candidates.

However, Fox News anchor Brit Hume made a disputing claim, saying, “We are talking here about people who come out on a cold night together at a caucus site, the doors are closed, and nobody can get in, so the opportunity to vote remains. It’s hard to believe very many people would say, ‘Oh, my goodness, the race has been called, I’m going home.’ I don’t think so.”

In its defense, the AP said that its projection was based on early results from eight Iowa counties that came in within the first 30 minutes after the voting began. According to the media outlet, the results, which showed Trump had more than half of the total votes counted, was consistent with the outlet’s voter survey, which gave Trump a clear lead over his rivals in Iowa.

The reason for CNN’s early call was reportedly rooted in initial votes that came in as well as an Edison Research poll that pegged him to an overwhelming lead. According to a CNN executive, the media network had enough data by 8 p.m. ET to make a race call, but decided to wait until voters had gone into their caucus venues.

Amid the controversy, Monday night’s result cemented Trump as the GOP front runner, giving him an edge of 29.7% over DeSantis, who sat in second with 21.3%. The final results were also not too different from the early race call with just 1% of the vote in. At that stage, 53.6% of the votes were for the former president while DeSantis still remained far behind with 20.8%.