Jan 15, 2024 - Politics & Policy

AP defends decision to call Iowa caucuses for Trump in 30 minutes

Caucus volunteers count votes at Franklin Jr. High Event Center in Des Moines, Iowa. Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

The Associated Press is defending its decision to declare former President Trump the winner of the Iowa caucuses on Monday about 30 minutes after voting began.

Why it matters: The 8:31pm ET call came as just nine of 1,657 precincts were reporting results — or 0.54%.

Driving the news: The news organization said the projection was based on an analysis of early returns and voter survey data from eight counties.

  • Those counties showed Trump with an "insurmountable lead," AP said.
  • And those rural counties were "demographically and politically similar" to many still left to report, it wrote Monday evening.

Zoom in: Members of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' campaign accused the media of "election interference" for calling the race before many voters had voted.

  • At the Sheraton Hotel in West Des Moines, DeSantis supporters told Axios the call was unfair.
  • "It's ridiculous. It's bad narrative and makes the media look irresponsible. Let the system work," says Jake Highfill, an Iowa representative and DeSantis supporter.

Zoom out: AP was not alone in its early call. Fox News, NBC News and CNN all projected a Trump win before 9pm ET.

The other side: "The people of Iowa sent a clear message tonight: Donald Trump will be the next Republican nominee for President," Alex Pfeiffer, communications director of Make America Great Again Inc., said in a statement.

  • "It's time for Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy to face reality and stop wasting time and resources," he continued.
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