Tens of thousands of Iowans will gather on Monday, Jan. 15, to make the first major decision of the 2024 Republican presidential primary race.

But what’s all the fuss about if they aren’t actually choosing a nominee?

Since the 1970s, Iowa caucuses have made the first key decision on a preferred presidential nominee, winnowing the candidate field and setting the stage for the rest of the cycle.

Presidential candidates will tour the state, some visiting every county, and meet one on one with voters in an attempt to win over enough of them to be named the first caucus victor.

Through a communal decision process, Iowans will get together and select the candidate they want to represent their party on the general election ballot. The winning candidate is then named, shining a light on where voters stand thus far in the race.


The Iowa caucuses do not determine who will officially represent the GOP on the ballot in the fall, but it is the first curtain drop of the 2024 cycle, with bragging rights included.

The narrowed Republican primary field sees top candidates former President Donald Trump, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy campaigning in Iowa ahead of the caucuses on Monday.

Several recent surveys indicate Trump is the frontrunner with at or above 50% support in the state, but even so, the former president has been urging voters not to take his apparent lead for granted.

In an effort to secure a win, Trump has been touring the state to convince voters to turn out for his campaign come Monday.


“We’re not taking any chances,” Trump said at a recent campaign rally in Sioux City. “The biggest risk is, you say you know what? He’s winning by so much, darling. Let’s stay home and watch television. Let’s watch this great victory. And if enough people do that, it’s not going to be pretty. But we’re not going to let that happen.”

With a large margin of separation from Trump, Haley and DeSantis are competing for a second-place spot in many primary polls. A recent Suffolk University poll suggested that Haley, the only female in the race, recently climbed to second place above DeSantis.

Ramaswamy, according to the Suffolk University poll Thursday, has only 6% support in the race.

Iowa caucuses are set for Monday, Jan. 15, at 7 p.m. CT. 

Snowy conditions and chilling temperatures this year are drawing concern over whether some voters – with every vote seen as crucial – may not make it to the polls. 

Iowa Republicans will gather Monday at 1,657 caucus sites, known as precincts, across the state. They will kick off at 7 p.m. CT on Monday, Jan. 15, prompting representatives from each of the presidential campaigns to make a short pitch for their candidate before the attendees cast their secret ballots. 

Democrats in the past have also kicked off their nominee voting process in Iowa, but are breaking tradition in 2024. 

Iowa will still vote on party business come caucus day, but not for a presidential nominee. Instead, the party is asking its voters to send mail-in ballots with their preferred candidate that will be accepted until Super Tuesday on March 5, 2024. 

Iowa served as the first caucus state for the Democrat Party for 60 years. So, why the change of heart? 

With its full support behind incumbent President Biden, who has been scrutinized by political opponents and parts of the country, and faces major concerns over his age and cognitive health, the party is seeking to reach minority voters and those in a state more likely to vote for a second term.