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Key observations from Iowa before GOP go-time — as apocalyptic winter sets in

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — The Hawkeye State is on the verge of breaking the ice on the 2024 Republican presidential cycle with its caucuses Monday.

The party’s four main candidates have been bouncing between campaign events in the heartland of American politics ahead of the 2024 GOP kickoff event — and The Post was there over the past week to get a sense of the vibe among voters before Caucus Day.

Here are some observations from the ground — as well as a few critical lessons learned.

It was unnerving to see random cars planted in median strips and off to the side of the road when getting around.

Rest assured, the vehicles weren’t part of police speed traps. Unfortunately, they belonged to unlucky drivers who had slipped off the slick roadways in the midst of Iowa’s brutal winter weather.

While driving all across Iowa, The Post observed hundreds of cars abandoned from the perilous winter conditions.

It underscored the daunting weather that awaits Iowans ahead of caucus night and served as a stark reminder about the consequences of underestimating Mother Nature’s winter fury.

Some of the voters The Post spoke with expressed concerns about braving the sub-zero weather Monday and were particularly nervous about elderly relatives doing it.

The Post learned the hard way why muscle cars were the cheapest rental option.

Venturing between campaign events in a cherry-red Dodge Charger seemed alluring, but after a while, the good old bungee cord trick to free it from the snow and pushing it out of parking lots became a Herculean task that lost its luster.

By the second blizzard, the rear-wheel drive Charger was promptly returned for a four-wheel drive pickup truck.

As of Saturday night, there were numerous voters The Post spoke with who were either undecided or soft on who they were ultimately going to back Monday.

Granted, this is from a sample of voters who were exploring different campaigns at this late stage of the game.

As of Saturday night, there were numerous voters The Post spoke with who were either undecided or soft on who they were ultimately going to back Monday.

But it could have an impact on the pitched battle for second place given the discussion portion of the caucuses when these voters will deliberate the 2024 race with their neighbors.

Unlike typical elections held in most state primaries, Iowa has caucuses, or meetings run by political parties in communities in which each candidate’s group gives speeches to try to convince listeners to vote for their preferred candidate. Specific rules of these meetings vary from caucus to caucus.

Afterward, the voters cast their vote secretly, and the ballots are tallied up across the state, producing an overall winner.

Every viable poll has former President Donald Trump far ahead of his Republican foes.

Having attended multiple events from all four top campaigns, one thing that stood out is that Trump events seemed to feature almost exclusively Trump voters.

Meanwhile, the campaign events for the three other top candidates — Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy — generally had a mix of fervent supporters and Iowans who were simply sampling the various hopefuls.

At the Trump events, there were a lot of voters who didn’t seem to even really consider backing an alternative, let alone attend an event for one of the other three.

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