The Democratic National Committee may have dethroned the Iowa caucuses as kingmaker in its presidential nominating process, but Iowa voters still have the power to crown Republican presidential contenders or threaten their White House ambitions.

That’s the reason Tim Scott, a Republican U.S. senator from South Carolina, made a 2024 election cycle visit to the state in mid-April 2023, just hours after announcing he had launched a presidential exploratory committee. It’s also the reason former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson was in the state on April 13, two weeks after announcing his presidential bid.

Scott and Hutchinson know that for Republicans, the road to the White House begins in Iowa.

They are not alone. Announced candidates, including former President Donald Trump and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, as well as candidates who have not officially announced, such as former Vice President Mike Pence and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, have also made the trek to Iowa, too. The state gives presidential hopefuls a venue to test their messages and campaign skills early in the campaign process. And candidates with limited resources can meet Iowa voters face to face and forgo expensive advertising campaigns to make their cases.

Emeritus professor of political science at Iowa State University Steffen W. Schmidt began working at the university in 1970 and has watched the Iowa caucuses evolve. He has written books on the topic, including the textbook “American Government and Politics Today, which he co-authored with Barbara A. Bardes and Mack C. Shelley II.

Read Schmidt’s full article in The Conversation here to learn how he believes the caucuses may be facing a big challenge, as the Democrats in Iowa may defy the DNC and continue to hold their caucuses first.