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As the 2024 presidential election approaches, former President Donald Trump maintains his dominant position in the GOP, despite the active campaigning of his rivals. With just 90 days remaining until the Iowa caucuses, Trump’s lead in polling, endorsements, and campaign activity has pushed other Republican candidates to strategize beyond the early state.

Trump’s return to the political scene in recent weeks, including holding several caucus commitment events, has reinforced his stronghold on Iowa. As of Thursday, his polling average stands at 50.5%, far outpacing other contenders like Nikki Haley (9.8%), Tim Scott (5.5%), and Mike Pence (2.2%). Even Governor Ron DeSantis, once seen as a formidable challenger to Trump, lags behind with an average of 17.4% in Iowa polls.

Trump’s influence in Iowa was further solidified when Attorney General Brenna Bird endorsed him, breaking from the traditional neutrality of higher-ranking politicians in the state’s presidential races. While the caucuses are considered up for grabs, Trump’s grip on the state has led several candidates to explore alternative strategies.

Candidates like Pence, Haley, and Scott are shifting their focus to battleground states like Nevada, where they have filed to compete in the state’s Feb. 6 primary instead of its Feb. 8 caucuses. This strategic choice may deny them delegates but provides the opportunity for increased media coverage and improved polling, potentially more valuable in states like New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Fundraising decisions also signal a shifting landscape in the 2024 race. Trust in the Mission PAC, which supports Scott, canceled a $40 million advertising reservation for the fall, citing the challenge of persuading Republicans to break from Trump’s influence at this stage. The PAC’s co-chairman emphasized that the electorate was not yet focused or ready for an alternative to Trump.

Trump’s formidable fundraising capabilities further highlight his position, with nearly $36 million available for the 2024 primaries after a substantial $45.5 million raised in the third quarter. DeSantis and Scott, while raising significant funds, face constraints in their primary campaign spending.

From a conservative perspective, Trump’s continued popularity and dominance in Iowa may signal a challenging landscape for his Republican rivals. The strategic choices made by other candidates underscore the formidable challenge of breaking Trump’s hold on the GOP, both in terms of voter support and fundraising capacity.