Friday 30 September 2016

US Election: Here are the takeaways from the Iowa caucuses

David Kearns

Published 02/02/2016 | 08:38

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz reaches out to supporters after winning at the Iowa caucus Credit: Christopher Furlong
Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz reaches out to supporters after winning at the Iowa caucus Credit: Christopher Furlong

The results are in and America is reeling, the Democrats are in deadlock and the Republicans have two new front runners.

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While Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s outright victory in Iowa puts him in the driving site now for his party’s nomination for the White House, it also produced a clear leader among more moderate Republicans, with the emergence of Marco Rubio.

Many in the United States believe that Cruz vastly over-performed expectations by claiming 29 pc of Iowa voters, and say it reinforces what the Republicans have long feared – that the ‘Establishment need not apply’.

Read More: #Stickerkid - The real winner of the Iowa caucuses

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey governor Chris Christie and Ohio governor John Kasich, three of the leading “establishment” choices for the party, took a combined seven pc of the vote.

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio Credit: Dave Kaup
Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio Credit: Dave Kaup
Businessman Donald Trump Credit: Kiichiro Sato

Even Mike Huckabee, who won the Iowa caucus in 2008, failed to make a dent. In fact, following last night’s results, the former governor of Arkansas officially dropped out of the race.

Cruz’s first-place finish in Iowa is noteworthy because not a single Senate colleague endorsed his campaign.

Even the Republican governor of Iowa condemned the Texas senator and called on Iowans to vote for anybody but Cruz. 

Added fuel to the fire, Tea Party favourite Sarah Palin piled on the pressure by endorsing Trump.

Read More: US Election: From Iowa to Super Tuesday, how the presidential candidate selection process works

The reverse is true for Trump, who was revealed to have smaller base than expected.

Trump had all of the momentum going into Monday night - he dominated the press coverage, spent more than any candidate on huge rallies, and was even surging in the final polls.

Hilary Clinton
Hilary Clinton
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders acknowledging the crowd as he arrives for his caucus night rally in Iowa Credit: Patrick Semansky

But when voters were asked, only 24 pc answered Trump.

Read More: Iowa Caucus results: Republican Cruz tops Trump in Iowa presidential race, Clinton and Sanders tie

Still Cruz will find himself on shakier ground as the race shifts to New Hampshire, where Trump has a sizable lead in the polls and where the dark horse of the night Marco Rubio will fare even better.

While the Florida senator was a clear third to Trump and Cruz, he got much closer to victory than anyone expected - basically tying for second with 23 pc of the vote.

For all of Cruz’s and Trump’s success, the results underscored the threat posed by Rubio, a candidate seen by many as far more moderate than his nomination rivals.

His strong showing in Iowa shows that he compete against Cruz and trump for the conservative based, and while still appealing to moderates.

Read More: Let the games begin - marathon US presidential campaign kicks off

On the Democratic side, the Iowa caucuses threw out every poll.

Coming in with every possible advantage, Hillary Clinton has found herself deadlocked against a Democratic socialist who, until, no one would have thought stood a chance once voters were asked for their say.

Vermont senator Bernie Sanders came close to an improbable upset – a “virtual tie”, he called the result, which saw less than one pc separate between himself and the former Secretary of State.

Like Barack Obama in 2008, Mr Sanders has position himself as the ‘heart’ candidate to Ms Clinton’s ‘pragmatic’ candidacy.

Still, given the shape of the Democratic electorate, the Vermont senator will need to start doing a lot more than just "virtually tying" in order to actually win the party’s nomination.

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