How Trump’s lead is largest in Iowa poll’s history

Happening this Tuesday: President Biden, at the White House, holds a press conference with Ukraine’s Zelenskyy at 4:15 pm ET, as prospects dim on deal for U.S. aid… Special counsel asks U.S. Supreme Court to decide if Donald Trump is immune from Jan. 6 prosecution… NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll finds majority of likely GOP caucusgoers saying Iowa governor’s endorsement of Ron DeSantis doesn’t affect their vote… And Texas Supreme Court rules against woman seeking an abortion.

But FIRST… Not only does Donald Trump lead his Republican rivals by more than 30 points in Iowa, according to the new NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll conducted by J. Ann Selzer.

It’s also an unprecedented lead in the 30-year-plus history of Selzer’s poll — at least for a competitive GOP contest at this same point in the race. 

Back in January 1988, Bob Dole was ahead of his nearest rival by 28 points in the poll; Dole would go on to win the Iowa caucuses (but lose the nomination to George H.W. Bush). 

In November of 1995, Dole was up in the poll by 25 points; he’d go on to win the caucuses and the GOP nomination. 

And in January of 2000, George W. Bush was ahead by 27 points in the Iowa poll; he eventually won the caucuses — and the GOP nomination, as well as the presidency. 

Trump’s current poll advantage in Iowa is bigger than all of those past leads in a Selzer poll.  

Headline of the day

The number of the day is … 54%

That’s the share of likely Iowa GOP caucusgoers who say that Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ endorsement of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the GOP presidential contest doesn’t influence their vote, a new NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll finds.

Still, almost a third — 31% — say that Reynolds’ endorsement did make them more likely to caucus for DeSantis. However, the share of voters who say that DeSantis is their top choice in the caucus only rose three percentage points since October — before Reynolds’ endorsement.

In October, 16% of those surveyed said DeSantis was their first choice, while 19% say that now. 

And just 14% of likely Republican caucusgoers say that Reynolds’ endorsement makes them less likely to caucus for the Florida governor.

For more on how endorsements are affecting the Iowa Republican primary caucus, check out 

Eyes on 2024: Some GOP contenders tiptoe around Texas abortion case

A Texas abortion case has continued to grab headlines in recent days, and GOP presidential hopefuls have started to weigh in from the campaign trail. On Monday the state Supreme Court ruled against the woman at the center of the case, Kate Cox, who was seeking an abortion after discovering that her fetus had a fatal genetic disorder. She had said earlier on Monday that she would leave the state for the procedure, as her health was deteriorating. 

Asked about the case in New Hampshire, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy told reporters that he has been “crystal clear” that abortion is a state issue and said his stance is a “winning approach” for the GOP, per NBC’s Nnamdi Eguwonwu and Emma Barnett.   

And NBC’s Sarah Dean reports that former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley told ABC News that she did not know the details of the case but that the abortion issue should “in the hands of the people,” not judges. 

“We’re watching states make these decisions,” Haley said. “Some states are going more pro-life. I welcome that. Some states are going more on the choice side. I wish that wasn’t the case, but the people decide.”

It appears Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has yet to weigh in on the Texas case, but on Monday he did lean into the issue of abortion on the campaign trail, citing it as a key difference between him and Haley during an Iowa town hall, per NBC’s Alec Hernández. 

“I think she’s catering to folks who are not pro-life,” DeSantis said. “I think she’s just not been somebody that’s been able to articulate the premise of why people are pro-life, whereas I’ve actually delivered results when it comes to that.”

DeSantis also said Trump has “taken himself out of the running” because of his changing stance on the issue, contrasting Trump’s 2020 March for Life speech with his criticism of six-week abortion bans.

In other campaign news …  

Debate drama: CNN’s January debate in Iowa remains in question, as Haley has not said whether she will participate, per Axios.  

Trump trial: Special counsel Jack Smith has asked the Supreme Court to weigh in on whether Trump could be immune from prosecution in the 2020 election interference case, per NBC’s Lawrence Hurley.

New Hampshire threat: A New Hampshire man was arrested on Monday after threatening to kill Vivek Ramaswamy and his supporters, per NBC’s Katherine Koretski, Michael Kosnar and Nnamdi Egwuonwu.

Poll position: CNN released polls in Michigan and Georgia showing former President Donald Trump with an advantage over President Joe Biden, although the Georgia results are within the margin of error. But the surveys did find that nearly half of the voters in those battleground states say that if the criminal charges against Trump regarding election interference are true, those charges would be disqualifying.   

The stakes in 2024: Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer spoke with NBC’s Julie Tsirkin about the importance of democracy in the 2024 presidential race, saying, “I don’t know that [reproductive freedom is] more important than voting rights and the fundamentals of our democracy, because that’s how we secure reproductive rights.” 

AI on the line: A congressional candidate in Pennsylvania launched an artificial intelligence campaign caller, in what its creators think is the first-ever AI campaign phone volunteer of its kind, Politico reports.

She’s running: Texas Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee is running for her 16th term in Congress after losing the Houston mayoral race runoff on Saturday by almost 30 percentage points, the Washington Post reports. 

ICYMI: What ELSE is happening in the world

 In Washington on Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pleaded for more U.S. military support, as the Senate remains divided on a package that would include funding for Ukraine, Israel and the Southern border.

House Republicans are planning to vote Wednesday to formalize the impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, NBC’s Rebecca Kaplan and Sahil Kapur report.

Jack Teixeira, a man suspected of leaking Defense Department documents, acted alone, an Air Force investigation found, but the military branch still disciplined 15 others for “dereliction of duty” related to the incident.