DES MOINES, Iowa — Although he had fallen in the polls after a poorly received debate performance last week, Ted Cruz was declared the winner of the Republican Iowa caucuses late Monday as Donald Trump and Marco Rubio finished second and third respectively.
Meanwhile, the contest was a virtual draw between Hillary Clinton and Bernard Sanders, neither of whom was declared the victor as the night came to an end. With abysmal showings, Martin O’Malley and Mike Huckabee announced they are suspending their presidential campaigns.
Cruz, who’s made support for anti-LGBT discrimination a strong component of his campaign, attributed his win at his victory event in Iowa to grassroots efforts and divine intervention.
“Let me first of all say, to God be the glory,” Cruz said. “Tonight is a victory for the grassroots. Tonight is a courageous victory for conservatives across Iowa and all across this great nation. Tonight, the state of Iowa has spoken. Iowa has sent notice that the Republican nominee and the next president of the United States will not be chosen by the media, will not be chosen by the Washington establishment, will not be chosen by the lobbyists, but will be chosen by the most incredible, powerful force where all sovereignty resides in our nation: By we the people, the American people.”
On the Republican side, with 99 percent of precincts reporting, Cruz won a plurality of 27.7 percent, followed by Trump at 24.3 percent and Rubio at 23.1. The next down was Ben Carson, who came in at 9.3 percent, followed by Rand Paul at 4.5 percent and Jeb Bush at 2.8 percent. The remaining Republican candidates received less than 2 percent of the vote, such as Huckabee, who received 1.8 percent.
At his event in Des Moines, Trump put a positive spin on his second place finish and said he’s already looking to the next contest in New Hampshire next week.
“And we will go on to get the Republican nomination, and we will go on to easily beat Hillary Clinton or Bernie or whoever they throw up there Iowa,” Trump said. “We love you we thank you. You’re special. We will be back many, many times. In fact, I think I might come here and buy a farm. I love it, OK?”
Rubio, whose third place win could be considered a top finish among the “establishment” Republican candidates, declared victory at his speech after the caucuses, saying his opponents told him and his supporters this day would never happen.
“Tonight in Iowa, the people of this great state sent a very clear messages: After seven years of Barack Obama, we are not waiting any longer to take our country back,” Rubio said.
On the Democratic side, with 99 percent of precincts reporting, Clinton led Sanders by a narrow margin of 49.9 percent to 49.6 percent. O’Malley came in at 0.6 percent.
Clinton said at her event after the results she welcomed the apparent continuation in the primary for the Democratic nomination.
“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,” Clinton said.
In later remarks at his own event, Sanders declared a virtual tie between him and Clinton, but said the message Iowa delivered was loud and clear.
“I think the people of Iowa have sent a very profound message to the political establishment, to the economic establishment, and, by the way, to the media establishment,” Sanders said. “That is, given the enormous crises facing our country, it is just too late for establishment politics, establishment economics.”
For both Democrats and Republicans, delegates are appropriated to candidates in accordance with the percentage of vote they received. The result on the Democratic side means the party’s 54 delegates from that state will be split between Sanders and Clinton. But the portions of the 30 delegates on the Republican side will be smaller because of the number of candidates.
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, responded on Twitter to the results by praising Clinton, whom his organization endorsed last month, and criticizing the Republican candidates.
.@HillaryClinton‘s fight is our fight. Hope all Iowans will caucus tonight for the pro-equality champion we need.
— Chad Griffin (@ChadHGriffin) February 2, 2016
While polls had shown a tight race between Clinton and Sanders leading up the Iowa caucuses, the Cruz victory was striking because polls predicted Trump would win Iowa handily. In the days leading up to the contest, a Morning Consult survey found that only 13 percent of Republican voters thought Cruz would win Iowa, while a majority predicted Trump would be the victor.
Gregory Angelo, president of Log Cabin Republicans, said in a statement the election is “far from over” in the aftermath of the Iowa results.
“Log Cabin Republicans will continue to advocate for a common-sense conservative presidential nominee while ramping up our campaign to make Hillary Clinton’s anti-gay past known,” Angelo said. “Log Cabin Republicans does not endorse in primary elections, but we encourage all our members to step up as our members in Iowa did today to advocate for a stronger, more inclusive GOP. This presidential race is fluid and far from over.”