Leading Iowa Evangelical activist, Bob Vander Plaats, president of the advocacy group The FAMiLY Leader, has weighed in on the Republican presidential race in Iowa, hinting at a potential upset. Despite polls suggesting a significant lead for former President Donald Trump, Vander Plaats believes the contest remains “wide-open,” suggesting an environment ripe for a surprise result.

In an interview with The Christian Post, Vander Plaats emphasized Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s strong presence on the ground, hinting at him being the most poised to claim victory in the Iowa caucuses:

“His [political action committee], at least, is saying that they have 10,000 caucusgoers committed already to caucus for him. And so that’s a pretty stunning ground game,”

Vander Plaas noted that DeSantis is engaging in a “full Grassley,” a campaigning style named after U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, known for visiting all 99 counties in the state.

RealClearPolitics polls from July 15 to Sept. 9 indicate Trump’s support at 44.5%, with DeSantis in second place at 16.7%. However, Vander Plaats warns against full reliance on poll numbers, recalling past discrepancies.

While appreciating Trump’s achievements during his tenure, Vander Plaats senses a fatigue among Iowans towards the former president’s backward-looking stance. This opens the door for candidates like DeSantis, Tim Scott, Vivek Ramaswamy, Nikki Haley, and Mike Pence, all of whom are making strong inroads in their campaigns.

DeSantis’s comprehensive strategy, especially his focus on rural areas, is resonating with key players like the Faith & Freedom Coalition. Moreover, the Florida Governor has garnered influential endorsements, further cementing his position as a significant contender.

Although Vander Plaats has a particular fondness for DeSantis’s campaign strategy, he reiterates that the Iowa race remains unpredictable, with every candidate having a potential shot at victory.


The Iowa Republican caucuses are the be has been marked by unpredictability and a field that remains “wide-open,” despite polls suggesting otherwise. While former President Donald Trump currently tops the polls with a significant lead, many, including prominent Iowa Evangelical activist Bob Vander Plaats, caution against placing too much trust in these numbers, citing past inaccuracies.

Vander Plaats, president of the advocacy group The FAMiLY Leader, plays an influential role in the campaign dynamics. At the FAMiLY Leadership Summit earlier this summer, a must-attend for most Republican candidates, most took the opportunity for one-on-one interviews with ex-Fox News host Tucker Carlson. Notably absent was Donald Trump.

Amidst this backdrop, Vander Plaats named Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as the frontrunner for the caucuses, highlighting DeSantis’ impressive endorsements and his pledge to do the “full Grassley” – a nod to U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley’s practice of visiting all of Iowa’s 99 counties. The commitment seems to be bearing fruit; DeSantis’ political action committee claims 10,000 caucusgoers are already committed to backing him.

However, the RealClearPolitics poll average paints a slightly different picture. Trump leads with 44.5%, DeSantis secures second with 16.7%, and other candidates like U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley follow behind. Some candidates, including former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, failed to garner even 1% support.

Despite Trump’s polling lead, Vander Plaats perceives a desire among Iowans to move beyond the Trump era. Many candidates, from DeSantis to Haley to Pence, are vying robustly for this evolving voter base.

Specific praise was reserved for DeSantis’ comprehensive strategy. His recent endorsements, notably from influential figures like Troy Scheuermann and ex-Iowa Republican Party Chair Cody Hoefert, may significantly bolster his caucus prospects. The emphasis on rural outreach, championed by DeSantis and reinforced by groups like the Faith & Freedom Coalition, is considered paramount.

In conclusion, while DeSantis’ ground game receives praise, Vander Plaats emphasizes that the contest remains anyone’s game.

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