DeSantis says he will win Iowa

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has staked his campaign’s success on his performance in Iowa, where he’s secured a key endorsement from Gov. Kim Reynolds and recently completed a 99-county campaign swing.

“We're going to win Iowa. I think it's going to help propel us to the nomination,” the GOP presidential hopeful said during an interview Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Republicans will vote in Iowa on Jan. 15. The latest FiveThirtyEight average has former President Donald Trump leading the field in Iowa by nearly 30 percentage points. And Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has been closing the gap on DeSantis is the state in recent weeks. An NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll released at the end of October had the two tied for second behind Trump.

Though Iowa’s early caucuses offer a first glance at where voters are at, who wins the state’s support is far from predictive of who will win the party’s nomination. Republican candidates Ted Cruz in 2016, Rick Santorum in 2012 and Mike Huckabee in 2008 all won in Iowa, but none made it to the general election.

“I do recognize that there have been people that have won who have not gone on to win the nomination,” DeSantis told NBC’s Kristen Welker. But this year, he said, is different as the once-crowded field has winnowed to just a few big-name candidates.

“Ultimately, Republican voters are going to have the choice of Donald Trump, which I think would make the election a referendum on him and a lot of the issues that he's dealing with, or me, and that will be a referendum on Biden's failures, on all the issues in the country that are affecting people,” DeSantis said.