The Pleasure of Defeat within the Iowa Caucuses

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“The distinction between a gold and silver is it’ll change your life — or it received’t,” she informed me from a ski camp within the Italian Alps, the place she stated she had discovered to make tortellini whereas taking a break from the World Cup circuit.

When Diggins received gold in South Korea, NBC’s announcer practically hyperventilated on the air. “Right here comes Diggins! Right here comes Diggins!” he screamed as she moved into first place simply forward of the end line, adopted by “Sure! Sure! Sure! Sure! — Gold!”

When Diggins received two extra medals 4 years later, the hype was comparatively muted.

Just like the Olympics, Iowa’s caucuses aren’t solely about successful and dropping. It’ll additionally matter how shut the candidates end to Trump. Nike might disagree — “Second place is the primary loser,” the shoe firm stated on the 1996 Summer time Video games — however in Iowa second place is commonly the second winner.

If Haley winds up a comparatively shut second, anticipate to listen to about the way it’s the best evening in her political life. DeSantis would model himself a modern-day comeback child with a second-place end.

(Put together to geek out: The Occasions’s election evening forecast will embrace a needle for the race for second place tonight.)

Diggins is aware of about heroic second-place finishes.

Thirty hours earlier than she won a silver medal at the 2022 Olympics in China, she got here down with a case of meals poisoning, sapping her vitality. She stated she was prouder of that end whereas competing in suboptimal situations than the gold from 4 years earlier.

Then final November, throughout a race close to the Arctic Circle in Finland, she lost a glove and was bleeding profusely from her face and nonetheless finished second in a 20-kilometer race when it was about zero levels Fahrenheit — a bit of bit hotter than the anticipated minus 5 in Des Moines tonight.

“There’s this actually fascinating relationship between first place and second place as a result of there’s how everybody else treats you, after which there’s how you’re feeling about it,” she stated. “For those who enable different individuals to guage you, you’ll by no means be completely happy as a result of you’ll by no means make everybody completely happy. And I feel that’s in all probability extra true in politics than anyplace else.”

Then there’s the climate — the primary matter of dialog for almost everyone right here in Des Moines.

Each DeSantis and Haley have turned Iowa’s climate into a bit of their stump speech. “It’s not going to be nice,” DeSantis stated of the caucus situations.

For her Olympic races, Diggins stated she was sporting “as many layers as I assumed I might nonetheless transfer in.” The important thing to succeeding in brutal situations, she stated, is just not letting the chilly get to her head, even when each different a part of her physique is freezing — classes that carry over to working a presidential marketing campaign.

“It’s a extremely only a ache tolerance,” she stated. “How a lot struggling are you keen to place up with and are you keen to go there?”

How chilly is it? The Diocese of Des Moines gave Catholics dispensation to skip yesterday’s Sunday Mass. The Nationwide Climate Service described situations as “arctic.”

It will likely be hotter tonight than it has been over the weekend, however that’s not saying a lot. Des Moines might see temperatures of 10 under zero, with wind-chill as little as 30 under, in response to the Nationwide Climate Service.

Nonetheless, Republican presidential campaigns are asking Iowans to schlep to greater than 1,600 caucus websites throughout the state tonight to solid ballots within the first presidential contest of 2024.

“We’re going to be on the market within the snow,” Nikki Haley stated Sunday, my colleague Jazmine Ulloa reported.

I can say from some expertise that being exterior when it’s 5 under zero isn’t any enjoyable, and 15 under is even worse. At these temperatures, automotive tires deflate. Gasoline stations aren’t any assist: The air and gasoline pumps freeze too. It’s a danger to be exterior.

What which means for caucus turnout is anybody’s guess.

As my colleague Jonathan Swan reported, the Trump and DeSantis campaigns had been making ready for a report turnout of greater than 200,000 caucusgoers, eclipsing the earlier excessive of 187,000 in 2016. However now it’s anybody’s guess.

David Kochel, a veteran Iowa Republican strategist, predicted about 150,000 Iowans would present up on Monday, a determine in keeping with historic norms, however nonetheless nearly 25 p.c of the registered Republicans within the state. He cited Trump’s lead and the climate as the largest components.

In cities and suburbs the place Haley’s supporters are extra prevalent, the roads are plowed and there’s much less blowing snow. Trump’s supporters in rural Iowa are stated to be extra motivated, however blowing snow remains to be whipping throughout the community of two-lane highways. The DeSantis marketing campaign says his supporters are essentially the most dedicated caucusgoers of all.

All of the Iowans we’ve talked to have informed reporters they’ll deal with the brutal climate. We’ll all discover out tonight, given their shoddy monitor report, if they’ll lastly perform glitch-free caucuses.


Donald Trump is making it very clear the place his focus is that this morning, arguing in a put up on Fact Social that Nikki Haley is out of step with the Republican Celebration, and that she will be able to’t win a common election as a result of she will be able to’t coalesce his MAGA motion behind her.

He added what could be the nicest factor he’s stated about Ron DeSantis in months: that the Florida governor “at the least, is MAGA-Lite.” — Michael Gold


Ron DeSantis continues to insist that he’ll keep within the race, irrespective of how he performs in tonight’s caucuses. “We’re occurring with this,” he stated in an interview with NBC Information. “We’ve been constructed for the lengthy haul.” For months, DeSantis promised to win Iowa, however he and his crew have scaled again these expectations as he has remained effectively behind Donald Trump in polls. —Nicholas Nehamas

Observe stay protection and outcomes right here.

Hope? Nope: Worry and anxiousness are on the poll in Iowa.

Oh captain: Meet the little-known largest gamers in Iowa tonight.