Advertisement

DeSantis camp complains of ‘election interference’ over quick call of Iowa for Trump

Here’s how the Associated Press explained how it would declare the winner.
 
A pile of ballots for Ron DeSantis is sorted for an official count at South Middle School in Waukee, Iowa, which hosted precincts #5 and #6 during the caucuses on Monday, Jan 15, 2024.
A pile of ballots for Ron DeSantis is sorted for an official count at South Middle School in Waukee, Iowa, which hosted precincts #5 and #6 during the caucuses on Monday, Jan 15, 2024. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Jan. 16|Updated Jan. 16

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Ron DeSantis’ campaign reacted furiously on Monday after some news outlets called the Iowa caucuses for former President Donald Trump less than an hour after caucusing began and before some Iowans had a chance to vote, accusing media companies of “election interference.”

“It is 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,” Andrew Romeo, a spokesperson for DeSantis’ campaign, said in a statement. “The media is in the tank for Trump and this is the most egregious example yet.”

The Associated Press called the first-in-the-nation nominating contest for Trump about a half hour after Iowans showed up to precincts. Trump currently leads all of his Republican rivals by a wide, roughly 30-point margin, while DeSantis and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley are battling for second place.

The Associated Press and some other news outlets use “decision desks” that rely on statistics, exit polling and other analyses to project winners of races beyond just reported vote totals. That is why sometimes the winner of the race is called when only a small percentage of the vote total is in.

Asked for comment, AP pointed a reporter to a post on its website explaining why it called the race.

“The Associated Press declared Trump the winner of the Iowa caucuses based on an analysis of early returns as well as results of AP VoteCast, a survey of voters who planned to caucus on Monday night. Both showed Trump with an insurmountable lead,” the story explained.

The DeSantis campaign’s allegation of “election interference” underscores his combative stance with the press. In the days and weeks leading up to the caucuses, he asserted that the media wants Trump to win the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

Florida’s governor and his team went all-in on the Hawkeye State, hoping that a strong performance there would help prove that Trump is beatable. DeSantis barnstormed the state over the weekend, campaigning through punishing winds and subzero temperatures in hopes of beating expectations on Monday night.

But DeSantis has found himself competing viciously with Haley, who has surged in public polling ahead of the caucuses. He’s also running well behind both Trump and Haley in New Hampshire, the next state to hold a nominating contest.

• • •

The first lady: Casey DeSantis: The ‘X-factor’ in Florida governor’s inner circle

Tampa Bay governor: Ron DeSantis’ Tampa Bay hometown has evolved. Does it still claim him?

Running for the White House while running the state: DeSantis faces a tough road to be president. Just ask other governors.

Looking ahead: Polls suggest DeSantis is done. Here are 5 reasons he might not be.

Looking back: For DeSantis, 2023 didn’t go as planned. He still left his mark on Florida.