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Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump gestures as he wraps up a campaign event on December 19, 2023, in Waterloo, IowaPhoto by Scott Olson/Getty Images

(LifeSiteNews) — No sooner had it began than the 2024 primary season is over.

Donald Trump’s historic victory in the Iowa Caucus put to rest all the old arguments about his electability, his legal woes, and his age. Despite being outspent two-to-one by both Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley, he won by 30 points. This was nearly double George Bush’s 2000 margin of victory.

Iowans, battling temperatures down to -20 degrees, have made clear who the nominee is going to be. The MAGA line held.

What’s left of the old Republican establishment — the surviving Bushes, McCains, Cheneys, and McConnells — is predictably beside itself. They are doing their best to talk down Trump’s victory, saying it was (yawn) “expected” and pointing to “the lowest turnout in a competitive Iowa caucus in a quarter century,” as if to suggest a lack of enthusiasm among the voters rather than, say, a healthy respect for the ability of subzero temperatures to inflict frostbite, kept the numbers low.

Still, the disappointment was palpable. They had hoped that the Iowa contest would produce a viable competitor. Or, better yet, two or three top-tier candidates who would battle Trump through the first few primaries proving that he was not invulnerable.

Instead, it produced a slew of Trump endorsements and three also-rans.

Vivek Ramaswamy managed both. After coming in fourth in Iowa with 8 percent of the vote, the biotech entrepreneur announced that he was dropping out of the race and endorsing Trump. The move was not unexpected, since for the past several months Ramaswamy has served almost as a Trump surrogate on the campaign trail. Not only was he highlighting the success of the past president’s policies and promising to continue them, he also steadfastly defended Trump against the lawfare that has been unleashed against him.

Ramaswamy’s smart move means that most of the roughly 6 percent of the U.S. electorate who supported him and his Trumpist policies will now gravitate back to those who originated them, further cementing Trump’s hold on the nomination.

A second Iowa also-ran, Ron DeSantis, has decided not to campaign in New Hampshire. This is not just a reflection of the fact that he is out of money or the chaotic state of his campaign. Rather, it is a tacit acknowledgement that Trump is certain to prevail in the Granite State. It is also, as I see it, the first step toward Ron ending his campaign altogether.

In order to avoid a humiliating defeat in his own home state — where Trump is leading two to one in the polls — DeSantis will certainly be gone before the March 19 Florida primary. That’s why Florida’s two U.S. senators, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, joined most of the rest of the Florida congressional delegation in endorsing Trump even before the Iowa caucus. Most of his deep-pocketed donors are already gone, having moved on to Haley or back to Trump.

DeSantis’ primary problem is not his policies, which for the most part mimic Trump’s. Rather, it is his personality. It turns out that my governor — I live in Florida — is a politician with zero charisma. He doesn’t light up a room when he enters and often seems ill at ease on the stump. That’s why his plodding visits to all of Iowa’s counties only hastened his campaign’s collapse. The voters got to take the measure of the man and, although they liked what they heard him say, they just weren’t inspired by the man they saw.

If DeSantis’ primary problem was his personality, Haley’s problem is her policies. Her surge that the media was breathlessly reporting in the weeks leading up to the caucus turned out to be largely hyperbole. Haley claimed in her post-caucus speech that it was now a two-person race, which for someone who came in third is a rather bizarre claim to make.

What ended Haley’s highly touted “surge” in Iowa, and what will soon end her campaign altogether, is that more and more Republicans are coming to understand who she is and where she stands on key issues. She is entirely the creation of the rapidly diminishing cohort of NeverTrumpers and is financially backed by globalist Panda-huggers like the Koch brothers. She wants amnesty for illegals, is soft on China, and no further protections for the unborn. Not only is she not MAGA, she can’t really even pass for what used to be called a conservative Republican.

The last-ditch efforts by her campaign — assisted by Democrat strategists and Democrat funding — to get independents and even Democrats to vote across party lines in next week’s New Hampshire primary will not improve her prospects. Whatever small boost her vote totals receive from such trans-voters — as we might call them — collaborating with the opposition to sabotage Trump in this way reveals a total lack of principle.

Voters in her home state of South Carolina will take note, and her poll numbers there will collapse even further. On February 24, they will go to the polls and deliver a stunning victory for Trump and a decisive rebuke to the women who once served as their governor. Her campaign will end there, if it doesn’t end after New Hampshire.

Trump will be the Republican nominee. It will be the next chapter in the greatest comeback in American political history.

Steven W. Mosher is the president of the Population Research Institute.