February 24, 2024

On Monday, January 15th, attendees started arriving at the Horizon Events Center, in Clive, Iowa, which is the largest precinct in the state, around 6 P.M. to caucus. The gymnasium was one of 1,657 caucus sites in Iowa where Republicans gathered. Donald Trump signs filled the parking lot, while inside, kids’ basketball games were being played. The bar at the event center, which typically offers nine-dollar tall boys, was closed for the evening. Trump campaign co-chair Sam Clovis anticipated the 25 percent of undecided respondents and expected their opinions to be influenced by what they heard during caucus speeches. Caucus captains prepared to give short speeches on behalf of their candidates, and high-profile surrogates took precedence over them. Caucus preparation was interrupted when Nikki Haley announced a surprise visit to the gymnasium. Attendees chatted and picked up their ballots, engaging in discussions as the caucus approached. Vivek Ramaswamy and Asa Hutchinson joined the crowd. Party officials collected the paper ballots in plastic bins, and the doors to the gym were closed shortly after 7 P.M. The caucus featured a five-minute speech by Asa Hutchinson and a surprise appearance by Donald Trump. The Associated Press called the caucuses for Trump, overshadowing subsequent speakers. After reading out the results, the crowd began to disperse, signaling the end of the caucus. The chair of the Iowa G.O.P. expressed disappointment in the rushed process and the lack of transparency, as traditionally the Iowa caucuses are known for considering informed decision-making and grassroots democratic processes.