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.
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