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Donald Trump at a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Donald Trump at a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Oct. 7, 2023. Scott Olson / Getty Images file

Trump scores high marks from Iowa Republicans on key candidate qualities

Iowa caucusgoers said Trump would be most feared by enemies and be a strong leader. Nikki Haley notched the best score of any other Republican on having good relationships with allies.

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Likely Iowa GOP caucusgoers consistently said former President Donald Trump is the candidate who best embodies a range of qualities they're looking for in 2024, which helps explain his commanding lead in the new NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll.

A majority or a plurality of likely Iowa GOP caucusgoers choose Trump over the rest of the GOP field when asked which candidates best embody eight different attributes related to foreign and domestic policy.

Trump’s highest-rated quality is as the candidate who would be most feared by U.S. enemies, with a whopping 77% saying Trump is that candidate, including 59% of those likely caucusgoers who say Trump is not their first choice for president.

Trump also receives high marks as the candidate who would best handle the economy (68%), keep their families safest (59%) and be the strongest leader (59%).  

A majority of likely caucusgoers — 55% — say Trump would best protect America’s democracy. Likely caucusgoers who do not list Trump as their first-choice candidate are more divided on that question, with 30% saying Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis would best protect democracy and 30% picking former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, and just 15% saying Trump.

Trump still led the rest of the GOP field even among the attributes where he received the lowest marks. A plurality of likely caucusgoers (46%) say Trump will be the most respected by leaders of friendly countries, while 47% say Trump cares the most about people like them, another low mark for the former president.  

Haley’s highest mark came as the candidate who would be most respected by leaders of friendly countries, with 24% picking the former ambassador. 

DeSantis’ highest marks came from 19% of likely caucusgoers who say he would best make the federal government function and 19% who say he cares the most about them. 

Two other candidates rated in the survey — former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy — did not reach double digits on any of the listed attributes. 

Ramaswamy’s highest mark came from the 8% of likely caucusgoers who say he would best make the government function. 

The NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll was conducted Dec. 2-7 of 502 likely Republican caucusgoers, and it has an overall margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.