By: Jonathan Hogue ~Opinions & Editorials Editor~
In the first primary contest of the 2016 presidential race, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) came out ahead of other Republican candidates, while Secretary Hilary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) remained neck and neck throughout the night.
For the Democrats, political pundits argued that a victory in Iowa was necessary for Clinton in a race that has defied most predictions. In a virtual tie, Clinton edged Sanders with 49.8 percent of precincts to Sanders’s 49.6 percent, but both received an equal amount of delegates. Unassigned delegates in up to six precincts were determined by coin tosses, all of which Clinton won. For Clinton, the tie puts her campaign in an uphill battle against Sanders’s momentum going into New Hampshire’s primary.
Some polls show Sanders with a double-digit lead over Clinton, but Iowa’s results show the Democratic party is not fixated on one particular candidate. Clinton supporters hope Monday’s showing will give the campaign a boost going into the Granite state’s primary on Feb. 9.
For the Republicans, anti-establishment figure Cruz beat real- estate mogul Donald Trump 27.7 percent to 24.3 percent in a race few thought would happen in 2016. Cruz found enough support among evangelical voters and Tea Party conservatives to edge Donald Trump during Monday’s caucus.
Below Trump and Cruz, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) placed third with 23 percent of the vote, more than twice the amount he was projected to win. He was followed by neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Sen. Rand Paul (RKy).
Pundits claim the establishment is scared of a potential Trump-Cruz matchup, fearing it may alienate independent voters the party needs during the general election. In New Hampshire, Trump holds a commanding 18-point lead over his closet rival, Gov. John Kasich, but Iowa’s results may turn the race in a different direction.
Similar to Iowa, most of the Republican field will market themselves as the best anti- Trump candidate to solidify the party’s base and gain momentum going into later primary battles.
There are still plenty of primary races to go. After New Hampshire, the candidates face battles in South Carolina and Nevada. Following those crucial races, the primaries move to Super Tuesday.
Super Tuesday was a game-changer in the 2008 presidential primaries. Twelve states hold primaries on March 1, and candidates that perform well can secure their parties’ presidential nominations. Campaigns with weak showings in the first primary states hope that Super Tuesday provides them with the momentum needed to claim victory come convention time.
Then-Sen. Barack Obama overtook then-Sen. Hillary Clinton by capturing a majority of the day’s delegates, and other campaigns hope similar luck will happen for them come March 1.
Citizens can expect this presidential election cycle to be a long process as outcomes continue to defy the political odds. Whether voters are “feeling the Bern” or desiring to “make America great again,” there is still plenty of time for the race to change before the parties meet to pick a nominee in the summer.
Stay tuned and prepare for a fight, America.