Important evangelical leader in Iowa speaks out against Trump and his chances of winning a general election

Nearly 30% of the state's population identifies with this religion and they could be important in the January caucuses.

According to a Pew Research Center study, nearly 30 % of Iowan adults are evangelical. Politically speaking, this group overwhelmingly supported Donald Trump for president in his two elections, something that could change somewhat in 2024. Bob Vander Plaats, executive director of The Family Leader and one of the state’s top evangelical leaders, questioned the former president’s ability to win a general election.

Vander Plaats spoke Saturday during Family Leadership Summit 2023 and demanded more from today’s political leadership. “We want leadership today. Let him understand that he is a minister of God, with the greatest platform in the world that comes with great responsibility. (...) We must not lower the standard of a minister of God. It is not a low vocation,” he expressed. He also clarified the need to prevail in the next elections to “win the next generation.”

A day later, he weighed in on X to explain why people of faith should not support Trump in the Republican primary. “The problem people of faith have with Donald Trump is not church attendance. It has everything to do with the ‘fruits of the Spirit.’ For example, F-bombs and mocking people with disabilities. You can be a statesman while still being a bold leader,” he commented.

The evangelical had praised other candidates such as Ron DeSantis, Tim Scott, Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy just days earlier. “Iowans are excited about many of these candidates right now. It’s August 2; when we get to November 2 and December 2, you’ll really see where the merger will take place,” he said.

Finally, Vander Plaats stressed that the Republican nominee must be someone who can beat Joe Biden in a general election. “While all these polls show Trump [as] the clear front runner, I don’t see evidence on the ground to support. My early hunch is he gets beat in the Iowa caucuses. All narrative regarding him is the same: 1) He did good. 2) Can’t win. 3) Time to move on. 4) Need to win,” he closed.

The GOP moved up its caucuses to January

The Republican Party of Iowa decided that its presidential caucuses will be held on Monday, January 15, 2024, which coincides with Martin Luther King Day. The decision moves the start of the nomination race forward by at least three weeks from the 2016 and 2020 cycles while maintaining a later date than the 2008 and 2012 caucuses.

Jeff Kaufmann, chairman of the Iowa GOP, said in a statement that his party remains “committed to keeping Iowa’s cherished presidential caucuses the first in the nation.” He assured that they hope to “hold historic caucuses in the coming months and defeat Joe Biden in November 2024.”

In 2020 and 2016, Iowa held its caucuses on the first Monday in January, while in 2012 and 2008, they took place just days after New Year’s Day. In chronological order from most recent to earliest, the winners of those respective races were Donald TrumpTed CruzRick Santorum and Mike Huckabee.

Following Iowa and New Hampshire is South Carolina, where Republicans will have to wait until mid-February to hold their primary.