Trump's Iowa Landslide: The True Face of Evangelicals

DeSantis' Strategy Falters in Iowa's Political Landscape Shift

by Zain ul Abedin
Trump's Iowa Landslide: The True Face of Evangelicals
© Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In a decisive victory that redefines the landscape of American politics, Donald Trump has once again demonstrated his unwavering grip on the Republican base with a commanding win in the Iowa caucus. The outcome, declared in under 40 minutes, was hardly surprising for those closely monitoring the polls.

Trump's triumph eclipsed his 2016 performance in the Hawkeye State, leaving rivals like former Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida in the dust. The buildup to the caucus, often sensationalized by the media as a tightly contested race, was essentially a product of commercial interests driving news coverage.

Though beneficial for viewer engagement, this approach masked the election results' predictable nature. The Republican Party in Iowa, heavily influenced by evangelical voters, has consistently demonstrated unwavering support for Trump.

This allegiance shatters the long-held belief that evangelicals primarily value moral integrity and Christian virtues in their political choices.

Evangelicals' Shifting Allegiance

Trump's appeal among evangelicals contradicts their professed commitment to values like purity, charity, and compassion.

Yet, their support has only intensified, revealing a preference for right-wing politics over altruistic principles. Iowa's history of selecting Republican candidates reflects the evolving identity of conservative Christianity, transitioning from Bush's "compassionate conservative" stance in 2000 to the more overtly authoritarian choices in recent years.

The 2024 caucus saw DeSantis adopting a strategy akin to Ted Cruz's in 2016, aiming to replicate Trump's appeal minus the personal scandals. Despite endorsements from prominent evangelical and political figures in Iowa, DeSantis's efforts fell short.

Trump's victory, however, isn't an anomaly but a continuation of a two-decade trend where the Iowa caucus mirrors the prevailing sentiment among white evangelicals. Increasingly, the evangelical movement has drifted away from traditional religious practices, embracing a cultural and political identity that Trump features prominently.

This shift is evident in the growing number of evangelicals who infrequently attend church, instead forming their religious views through politically charged media.

Evangelicals' True Colors Revealed

This transformation challenges the notion of evangelicals as reluctant Trump supporters.

Polls and interviews reveal a deep-seated admiration for Trump among evangelical voters, often placing him in a messianic role. This trend aligns with broader shifts in evangelical culture, prioritizing political grievances over spiritual teachings.

Authors and historians have long argued that the evangelical identity in white America is more about a set of political preferences than spirituality. Issues like anti-abortion stances, homophobia, and patriarchal norms dominate their agenda, often disconnected from biblical teachings.

This political alignment with Trump reveals a more profound affinity for authoritarianism, racism, and s-xism, reflecting the actual values underpinning the evangelical movement in America. Trump's success in Iowa isn't just a political victory; it's a stark revelation of the priorities and beliefs that have long fueled the evangelical movement in the United States.

This win strips away the last remnants of plausible deniability, exposing the core values that have always driven their support.