The longtime chair of the Iowa GOP says there’s a chance for a “record turnout” when his state’s caucuses on January 15 lead off the Republican presidential nominating calendar.
The Republican record was set eight years ago, when roughly 186,000 voters cast ballots in a wide-open GOP caucus that was narrowly won by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
“I think there is a potential for a record turnout. Certainly we’re going to be well above 100,000,” Iowa Republican Party chair Jeff Kaufmann emphasized in a recent Fox News Digital interview.
Kaufmann pointed to what he characterized as a surge in new voters showing up at Republican presidential campaign events across the Hawkeye State.
“You come to these events, regardless of the candidate, and you ask how many people are going to caucus for the very first time. I’m seeing a fourth, a third of the people raising their hand,” Kaufmann said. “That’s the unknown factor that makes it harder to predict, but it makes it wonderful as a party chair to know that we’re going to have even more registered Republicans.”
The caucus, unlike most primary elections, is run by the state party. And Kaufmann, with the clock ticking toward caucus day, shared his concerns.
“We’ve got 1,657 precincts. Almost 10,000 volunteers. Anything can go wrong, but the key is making sure you have stopgaps, you have double checks, you have everything that you need in order to make sure that a process that big, that reliant on volunteer help, everything goes well. So I don’t sleep for the next four weeks,” he said as he spoke with Fox News six days before Christmas at a rally headlined by former President Donald Trump.
But he added: “we feel good with where we’re at. We’re doing caucus trainings by the hundreds.”
Trump remains the commanding front-runner in the Iowa GOP presidential caucus, with his support at 50% or more in the latest surveys. A FOX Business poll indicated Trump at 52%, far ahead of two closes rivals — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at 18% and former ambassador to the United Nations and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley at 16%.
The Trump campaign’s ground game operation in Iowa is leagues ahead of his 2016 effort, when he narrowly lost the caucuses to Cruz.
“Ted Cruz won in 2016 because his ground game was fantastic,” Kaufmann, who remains neutral in the Republican nomination race, told Fox News.
And pointing to the 2024 Trump campaign, Kaufmann emphasized that “their ground game has increased immensely.”
After losing to Cruz eight years ago, Trump, in an unproven claim, charged that “Cruz didn’t win Iowa. He stole it.”
It was a taste of things to come, as Trump has repeatedly charged without providing concrete evidence that his 2020 general election loss to President Biden was “rigged” with “massive voter fraud.”
But Kaufmann said he’s not concerned about Trump claiming that the 2024 caucuses will be “rigged” if the former president doesn’t live up to expectations.
“We have such a transparent process. We count the ballots in the actual room. We report the ballots in the actual room,” he emphasized.
And Kaufmann added that “the conversations I’ve had with the Trump campaign have not revolved at all around any kind of rigged elections or anything of that nature. . . . We’ve got some great ground games right now in this state. And Donald Trump has one of those great ground games. And so that’s what wins an Iowa caucus.”
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