Texas Sen. Ted Cruz won a convincing win in the GOP Iowa caucus on Monday, taking 27.6% of the vote, leading second-place winner Donald Trump, who took 24.3%, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who had a surprisingly strong finish at 23.1%. Rubio had never polled more than 20% among GOP voters in the Hawkeye state.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton edged out Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, taking 701 county delegates to his 697 (the Iowa Democratic Party does not report voter percentages, only the delegates from each county).
The results from the caucus led to the departures of former Maryland Gov. MartinO’Malley (D), former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R), and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (R), who all polled in the single digits on election night.
The Republican results give Cruz a strong headwind going into the next few primaries, though Trump still holds a large nationwide lead among Republican voters and is the strong favorite to win the next state, New Hampshire, which votes on Tuesday, February 8. However, Cruz’s victory could breathe more life into his campaign as the election trudges forward.
Rubio’s convincing third-place win could also establish him as the establishment alternative to Trump or Cruz. Other establishment candidates still in the race include former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Rubio would need to consolidate the support that still exists between those candidates to have a strong chance of winning the GOP nod for November,
While Clinton eked out a win in Iowa, she still trails in New Hampshire, though she fares better in states afterwards, such as Nevada and South Carolina. Sanders meanwhile has shown that he does have a base of support, and may have even won a plurality of voters in the state (though it is impossible to know for certain) given that his support was primarily clumped in college towns. However, Iowa and New Hampshire are likely the friendliest states to Sanders, given that 43% of Iowa Democrats call themselves "socialist" and the proximity to his home state respectively.