The Debate, the Polls, and the Pulse of Iowa: A Closer Look at the GOP Primary Race

“We’ve had these three, acting as if the race is between the four of us…I’ve got these three guys who are all seeming to compete with, you know, Voldemort…he who shall not be named. They don’t want to talk about it,”  

That’s former Governor Chris Christie in Wednesday’s fourth and final GOP presidential primary debate talking about Trump’s refusal to share the stage with his competitors and Haley’s, Desantis’ and Ramaswamay’s refusal to criticize Trump’s absence or candidacy in general.  

Christie’s right. Trump is seemingly untouchable in the polls and no other candidate, besides Christie, is trying to actively bring him down. Trump’s biggest threat right now may just be juries and judges, not his fellow competitors. With six weeks out from the Iowa Caucus, the last debate did little if anything to change the game…  

In Iowa right now, Trump has about a 26-27% lead over DeSantis in the polls. So, should we just call it? Probably not. History suggests that Iowa breaks late, and when it comes to the caucuses, it’s not wise to leave before the clock runs out. Just ask Pete Buttigieg, who had a 25% lead in Iowa in November 2019, but ended up winning by just .1% in January 2020. If Bernie Sanders had just one more day in Iowa, that result is maybe different. Don’t believe Mayor Pete? You can ask former House Speaker and presidential candidate Newt Gingrich. Newt had a huge lead in Iowa in November 2011. It faltered in December. It was a memory by January 2012. Don’t underestimate the last minute magic that can happen on a highschool gym floor in the middle of the country… 

At Resonate, our AI-based voter models are built to track voter sentiment and shifts in real-time, nationally and at the local level in places like Iowa and New Hampshire. We like to see the last-minute big play as it develops – we’re not big on surprises. We’re in the business of not just helping our clients avoid them, but seeing these niche trends as they unfold in real time – at scale – throughout an election lifecycle and then acting on them immediately to eclipse 50% of the vote.  

Perhaps the most important part of our methodology is our models update every single night, which is what fundamentally separates us from static data resources. By taking into account the online behavioral activity (tens of billions of web events each day) of each individual-voter, our algorithms can pick up the smallest changes in voter sentiment as they occur, including shifts in candidate preference, likelihood to vote, lifestages, etc 


So, let’s go to Iowa  

Today, Resonate is tracking an online audience of 516K registered Iowa Republicans online. For targeting purposes, we can then get this audience down to the ≈222K voters are actually likely to vote in the in their precinct caucus.  



The above visual represents an overview of the demographics, values and motivations of registered Republicans in Iowa, while benchmarking them against your average Republican nationally. Here’s a little of what we see here: 

  • Iowa Republicans are more likely to accept those who are different and they most value living a life of excitement and challenges, while maintaining a good public image.  
  • This is a group of people who are eager to prove their competencies, while gaining trust and respect from others.  
  • The median age is 47 years old and they’re almost equal in both male and female.  


What separates Iowa Republicans politically? What are the issues the candidates should be leaning in on in the final weeks? 


Whoever is going to win Iowa better understand the above visual. If they’re at the fairs and local rotaries talking about illegal immigration or entitlement programs, then they may be wasting their breath.  

 When compared to your average likely 2024 Republican voter nationally, Iowa Republicans are: 

  • 44% more likely to support pro-life issues 
  • 42% more likely to support toughening law enforcement  
  • 20% more likely to vote for a candidate based on social issues  
  • 28% more likely to vote for a candidate based on their deficit reduction / balanced budget plan 

 The road to Iowa runs through relatability. The above insights are analyzed in real-time. These are the issues that Iowa Republican Caucus voters are coming out to hear about before the opening of the January 15 polls.  

Our online data are currently consistent with the Iowa polls, showing Trump with a nearly 30% lead. As the ground game heats up and campaigns invest in the final month’s advertising efforts, we will closely be monitoring any shifts towards or away from any candidate.  

For campaigns competing in Iowa and beyond, our models are capable of reaching primary voters where they are online with precision accuracy, with a message tailored to the values and policy positions that are informing candidate choice.

The above audiences referenced are just a few of hundreds of online voter audiences that campaigns can build, analyze and immediately activate with Resonate. Let us know what voter segments you absolutely need to win in 2024 and we’ll devise the targeting strategy that’s built to engage and persuade! 

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