Hours after the Iowa caucus sites had closed, the Democrats finally have a winner.
Hillary Clinton, the embattled party frontrunner who has struggled to resonate with young voters and first-time voters, was able to eek out a victory on Monday night. With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, Clinton finished with 49.9 percent of the delegate count versus Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders 49.6 percent. Martin O’Malley, who suspended his campaign Monday evening, finished with 0.6 percent.
Despite the close result — Sanders kept calling it a tie Monday night — Clinton’s win means she will take 28 delegates in Iowa while Sanders gets just 21. This is because of the quirky nature of how Democrats allocate delegates during the primaries, preventing winner-take-all votes in early states. The complicated mathematics, and the stellar team tasked to figure it out, is what enabled then-Sen. Barack Obama beat Clinton in 2008 despite not winning many of the early states.
Despite the certainty of Clinton’s win in Iowa, Sanders has refused to concede. This didn’t stop the former Secretary of State from giving her victory speech late Monday night.
“It is rare, it is rare that we have the opportunity we do now. To have a real contest of ideas, to really think hard about what the Democratic Party stands for and what we want the future of our country to look like if we do our part to build it,” she said. “I am a progressive who gets things done for people. I am honored to stand in the long line of American reformers who make up our minds that the status quo is not good enough, that standing still is not an option and that brings people together to find ways to improve the lives of Americans.”
On the Republican side, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’ victory was the big talk on Tuesday. Despite polling showing a lead as high as 11 points for Donald Trump, Cruz managed a strong ground game to come out on top 27.6 percent to 24.3 percent.
“To God be the glory,” Cruz opened Monday night after news organizations declared him the victor. “Tonight is a victory for the grass roots. Tonight is a victory for courageous conservatives all across Iowa and our great nation.”
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio did not let time slip before he took the primetime stage to give what amounted to a victory speech despite finishing third. Rubio’s campaign had been trending strongly upward in the past couple of weeks and finished with 23.1 percent of the vote, just under Trump.
“I give the party the best chance not just to unify the conservative movement but to grow it,” Rubio said Monday night.
With the proportional breakdown in the Republican primaries, Cruz secured eight delegates, Trump and Rubio seven, Ben Carson three and one each for Rand Paul, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina and John Kasich.
The race now turns to New Hampshire, where Trump had been enjoying massive leads in the polls. But, with polling showing a possible flaw in Trump support, plus the potential momentum for Rubio and Cruz, many political pundits are not hedging any bets right now.
“New Hampshire has gone differently than Iowa in six of the last nine elections on the Republican side, so the idea that one follows the other’s lead just doesn’t bear out,” Wayne Lesperance, a professor of political science at New England College, said.
Indeed, only once in recent history when a sitting president is not on the ballot has the winner of the Iowa caucus gone on to win the nomination. That was in 1996 when then-Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas edged Pat Buchanan.
The race includes fewer candidates on the Republican side than just 48 hours ago as former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee tweeted he was suspending his campaign and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum said he would reexamine his campaign in the coming days after a dismal showing in Iowa. Carson, meanwhile, has announced he was going home to get “fresh clothes” before heading to Washington for the National Prayer Breakfast and New Hampshire for this weekend’s debate. While he did not officially suspend his campaign, his actions have prompted some to question if his departure is inevitable.
That leaves 11 candidates officially still in the race with another potentially dropping out before New Hampshire (Santorum).