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Despite the cold weather, voters in Iowa turned out for their local caucuses

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

OK, let's talk about the other voting - the Iowa caucuses last night, where Donald Trump claimed a 30-point victory over Ron DeSantis, who was in a distant second place - Nikki Haley in third. Iowa Public Radio's Sheila Brummer spent the evening at one of the caucus sites - one in Sioux City. Hi there.

SHEILA BRUMMER, BYLINE: Hey. Good morning.

INSKEEP: You know, in all the years that I've covered politics, been to Iowa, done lots of different things in almost every state, I've never literally been inside the room for an Iowa caucus event. What's it like?

BRUMMER: It's a little different. You know, the Democrats - they go to corners, and it's very vocal, and they jockey around to figure out where they're going to be. But the Republicans - they get together, they pick out who's going to be, like, going to the county caucus to see who's going to eventually maybe go and be a state delegate. But what they do is they get a piece of paper. They write down the candidate's name. And then a precinct chair counts, you know, who got what. And then they read it over a loudspeaker to everybody, so everyone knows before they leave how the precincts turned out. We had six of them here.

INSKEEP: Six below zero, if I'm not mistaken, was the temperature at caucus time. Did that affect turnout in your location?

BRUMMER: You know, I kind of thought it would, but they had 25% more people show up. We're at Western Iowa Tech Community College. And I think what happened is this area had a lot of storms. It was a week of nasty weather - a couple of snowstorms, a blizzard, the coldest air in a long time. And I think people maybe just wanted to get out of the house, maybe. And I know the former president - his supporters really wanted to make a big showing, and that's what they did.

INSKEEP: Well, let's talk about that because it was thought that the weather would depress turnout. Don Gonyea noted that it was not as dramatic as 2016, when Trump was on his way up the first time and there was a record turnout. But still, it was a bigger turnout than some other years. Did you hear from people who said, I think it is vitally important for me to show up, even though I know how the result is probably going to come out?

BRUMMER: Well, they didn't want to have that repeat of 2016 when Ted Cruz won. They wanted to get out, and they wanted to make sure that their candidate's going to be the one on the ballot in November.

INSKEEP: Did anybody that you met last evening address the downsides of this candidate - that they are voting for someone who's been indicted multiple times, who has all the distractions of trials, potentially, during the general election, if he's nominated, would have all kinds of questions about what would happen if he's elected after being indicted?

BRUMMER: Well, supporters here for Trump say that he is - he's been wrongly accused. He didn't do it. Now, DeSantis and Haley supporters, they say the country needs someone else who doesn't have all that baggage. And there was even one person that said - you know what? - I did support Trump in 2016 and 2020, but I'm moving on to a different candidate.

INSKEEP: That's Iowa Public Radio's Sheila Brummer.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Steve Inskeep
Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Sheila Brummer