Cruz, Clinton win Iowa in one of most competitive caucuses in history

On Feb. 1, 2016, the first votes of the 2016 Presidential election cycle were cast in the Iowa caucus. After more than six months of campaigning, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas emerged victorious in the caucus on the Republican side, and Sec. Hillary Clinton edged out Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont on the Democratic side.

“I was surprised that Cruz won despite his reputation of not getting along well with Congress,” Lisa Hanser, seventh grade social studies teacher said.

Cruz won Iowa with 27.6 percent of the vote, 3.3 percent ahead of second place finisher Donald Trump, who finished with 24.3 percent.

As for the results of the Democratic caucus, Clinton, who finished with 49.6 percent, narrowly defeated Sanders, who finished with 49.3 percent

“On the Democratic side, I was surprised that it was as close as it was. I find it interesting that in a primary election for the President of the United States, there are delegates decided by a coin toss,” Hanser said.

Another result some viewed as surprising in the Republican field was Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s strong performance, finishing in third place with 23.1 percent, only 1.2 percent behind Trump.

“For months they told us because we didn’t have the right endorsements or the right political connections, we had no chance,” Rubio said in his speech on the night of the caucus. “But tonight, here in Iowa, the people of this great state have sent a very clear message.”

Eight days after the Iowa caucus, the first primaries of the election cycle were held in New Hampshire. The results were clear relatively early on. With less than half of the precincts reporting, 24-hour news networks across the country called the Republican primary for Trump and the Democratic primary for Sanders. Both of them dominated the rest of the field in their party. Trump finished with 35.4 percent of the vote, nearly 20 percent higher than second place finisher, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who ended with 15.7 percent As for Sanders, he finished with 60. 2 percent of the vote, 22 points ahead of Clinton, who finished with 38.2 percent.

“Together we have sent a message that will echo from Wall Street to Washington, from Maine to California,” Sanders said in his victory speech. “And that is that the government of our great country belongs to all of the people, and not just a handful of wealthy campaign contributors and their super PACs.”

On the Republican side, the competition started to get tighter for spots at the middle of the field. The margin between third place finisher Cruz and fifth place finisher Rubio was only 1.2 percent. Between Cruz and Rubio was former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, brother of former Pres. George W. Bush and son of former Pres. George H.W. Bush.

“You have all reset the race,” Bush said to supporters on the night of the primary. “This campaign is not dead. We’re going to South Carolina.”

In polling conducted prior to the prior to the New Hampshire primary, Kasich was polling at an average of 13.5 percent, according to RealClearPolitics. His second place finish was considered a major victory for his campaign.

“We do not see this as just another campaign,” Kasich said. “We see this as just another opportunity for all of us, I mean all of us, to be involved in something that is bigger than our own lives.”