Within minutes of results starting to come in from the Iowa caucuses, it was clear Donald Trump would win the night.

Then by late Monday, it appeared he had won in all but one of 99 of Iowa’s counties, as multiple news organizations called the race for Trump minutes after returns started trickling in — and even as Iowans continued to mark their ballots in parts of the state.

Early returns showed Trump received over 51% of the votes, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis eking out a second place win with 21%, and former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley coming in third with 19% of the votes.

Vivek Ramaswamy, who trailed behind with under 8% of the votes, announced in his speech Monday that he would suspend his campaign, saying “I think it is true that we did not achieve the surprise that we wanted to deliver tonight.”

Republican presidential candidates traveled across a frigid Iowa Monday, making their final arguments for why voters should support them to take on President Joe Biden in the 2024 presidential election.

Trump, the front-runner, appeared at a caucus site in Clive, Iowa, where he told caucus-goers, “I think I deserve your vote.” He is expected to win the caucuses by 20 points or more, far ahead of his main rivals, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley.

The early call in the race doesn’t bode well for DeSantis or Haley.

The Associated Press’ projection came after less than 3,000 votes had been cast. Many of the nearly 2,000 precinct locations across the state had not yet cast or registered votes. The AP said it declared Trump the winner based on “an analysis of early returns,” as well as results of AP VoteCast,” a survey conducted prior to the caucuses.

Supporters cheer before Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a caucus night party in Des Moines, Iowa, Monday, Jan. 15, 2024. | Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Associated Press

During his victory speech, Trump tried to strike a conciliatory tone. He thanked his sons and other campaign surrogates for helping him win in Iowa. He also paid tribute to his wife Melania’s mother, who recently passed away, saying she was a big help with his son Baron when they were in the White House.

“I really think this is time now for everybody, our country, to come together,” Trump said. “We want to come together. Whether it’s Republican or Democrat, or liberal or conservative, it would be so nice if we could come together and straighten out the world and straighten out the problems and straighten out all of the death and destruction that we’re witnessing that’s practically never been like this. It’s just so important. And I want to make that a very big part of our message.”

Trump also said he wanted to “congratulate Ron and Nikki for having a good time together. We’re all having a good time together. I think they both actually did very well.”

He said he was looking ahead to the vote in New Hampshire next week, a state he won in 2016 and 2020.

DeSantis gave a short speech Monday night, saying he would continue to fight for the nomination. He had focused all his efforts on Iowa, but while he finished far behind Trump, he seemed pleased that he managed to squeak out a second place finish ahead of Haley.

“People want to have hope for this country’s future, and that’s what we represent,” he said. “We represent a chance to reverse the madness that we’ve seen in this country, to reverse the decline of this country and to give this country a new birth of freedom and a restoration of sanity.”

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Haley also vowed to fight on, thanking her children and her husband, who is currently deployed. She said she was looking forward to competing in New Hampshire, where she is polling in second place, behind Trump.

In her speech, Haley said the race was now a “two-person race,” even though she came in third, just behind DeSantis. She hit Trump over spending and his age, comparing him to President Joe Biden.

“I voted for Donald Trump twice,” she said. “I was proud to serve in his administration. But when I say more of the same, you know what I’m talking about. It’s both Donald Trump and Joe Biden. They have more in common than you think — 70% of Americans don’t want another Trump-Biden rematch.”

“Trump and Biden are both about 80 years old. Trump and Biden both put our country trillions of dollars deeper in debt, and our kids will never forgive them for it,” she said. “Trump and Biden both lack a vision for our country’s future because both are consumed by the past, by investigations, by vendettas, by grievances. America deserves better.”

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