Staff Columnist

Transformation is complete - caucuses mark total Trump takeover of Iowa GOP

Dispatch from a Republican caucus in Iowa's liberal stronghold

The Republican Party of Iowa used a #x201c;Game of Thrones#x201d;-style image to promote 2020 caucus sites.
The Republican Party of Iowa used a “Game of Thrones”-style image to promote 2020 caucus sites.

Leading up to the 2020 Iowa caucuses, I repeatedly praised Iowa GOP officials for their decision to host preference polls and report the results on caucus night. That’s not something parties with incumbent presidents have usually done.

But nobody was really fooled by the gesture. The Republican Party of Iowa has now been completely consumed by allegiance to President Donald Trump, as made clear by Monday’s caucuses.

Unstoppable? Iowa GOP caucuses will measure depth of Trump’s support

I attended my neighborhood caucus in Iowa City’s 6th precinct on Monday night. It was a little bit lonely — not just because I was the only Trump-skeptical Republican there (although that’s true), but also because it was sparsely attended. There were just six voters in my precinct, plus two children and a high school newspaper reporter.

As of this writing, Trump leads the caucuses vote with about 97 percent support. Challengers Joe Walsh and Bill Weld have earned about 1 percent each. No surprise there.

Not only are GOP officials boisterously supporting Trump, the state party’s communications strategy — which officially is “not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee” — has become nothing but a bulletin board for pro-Trump messages.

Several county-level GOP groups promoted the caucuses with the message, “Be one of the first to vote for Donald Trump in 2020.” Social media posts for finding precinct locations featured a “Game of Thrones”-style banner with Trump’s face.

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It’s hard to see this as a fair process when the informational materials include fantasy fan art idolizing Trump.

My home of Johnson County is well known as the dark blue spot on a state political map that is overwhelmingly red. But while Republicans make up only 18 percent of registered voters here, the size of the population makes it seventh in terms of the raw number of registered Republicans.

At my caucus site, I reminded my fellow Republicans why conservatives should oppose Trump — he has increased federal spending, diminished Iowans’ wage growth and buying power through trade wars, and he supports infringements on the 2nd Amendment such as “red flag laws.”

Everyone politely listened, and then promptly disregarded my remarks. Final score: Five for Trump, one for Walsh.

Comments: (319) 339-3156; adam.sullivan@thegazette.com

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