For the past few months, both former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis argued that most Republican voters are ready to turn the page on former president Donald Trump. Iowa voters, however, didn’t get that memo. The former president took 51% of the vote, the largest margin ever in a competitive Republican caucus, and won 98 of Iowa’s 99 counties.

DeSantis tried to out-Trump Trump. It didn’t work.

DeSantis, while coming in second place, is the biggest loser of the evening. On paper, his campaign was tailor-made for a state like Iowa. In May 2023, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average, DeSantis trailed Trump by just 12 points (41% to 28%). But eight months and tens of millions of dollars later (his campaign and allies outspent Trump in TV ad spending by almost $6 million in the last month of the campaign), DeSantis ended up losing to Trump by 30 points and taking just 21% of the vote.

DeSantis attacked Trump from the right, arguing that Trump’s tenure as president was a disappointment to conservatives who wanted to

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