Clinton Ekes Out Narrow Win, Cruz Stuns GOP Field

Cruz claims victory in Des Moines on Monday as his wife Heidi listens. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Cruz claims victory in Des Moines on Monday as his wife Heidi listens. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Posted February 2, 2016 at 2:45am

In what Iowa party leaders are calling the closest Democratic caucus ever, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton managed a narrow victory, securing 49.9 percent of the vote to Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders’ 49.6 percent. The third Democratic candidate, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, received less than 1 percent of the vote and suspended his campaign.  

On the Republican side, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz claimed 28 percent of the vote Monday, beating out national front-runner Donald Trump in a victory fueled by a strong turnout from evangelical voters. Trump’s populist insurgency fell short in the face of Cruz’s political organizing across Iowa. Trump won 24 percent of the vote, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio made a surprisingly strong showing at third, with 23 percent.  

“Tonight is a victory for the grassroots,” Cruz said as he claimed victory. “Tonight is a victory for courageous conservatives across Iowa and for courageous conservatives across this great nation.”  

Rubio was clearly delighted with his share of the caucus votes, higher than polls predicted. “This is a night they said would never happen,” he told supporters.  

A more subdued Trump congratulated Cruz, and said, “We finished second, and I want to tell you something, I’m just honored.”  

None of the remaining GOP candidates received more than 10 percent of the caucus votes. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who won the Iowa contest in 2008, announced Monday night he was suspending his campaign.  

On the Democratic side, the state party reported Tuesday that Clinton was awarded 700.59 state delegate equivalents, Sanders was awarded 696.82 state delegate equivalents and O’Malley received 7.61 state delegate equivalents.  

In a Monday night speech, Clinton commended Sanders and O’Malley for “a real content of ideas.” She pledged to continue to expand access to health care, address climate change, enhance gun safety, improve the education system and make college more affordable.  

“I am a progressive who gets things done for people,” Clinton said, standing on stage with her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and her daughter. “I am honored to stand in the long line of American reformers who make up our mind that the status quo is not good enough, that standing still is not an option.”

Sanders followers chanted “Feel the Bern,” and they cheered wildly as Sanders declared the evening a “virtual tie” against the “most powerful political organization in the United States of America.” He hit on his campaign themes of college affordability, income inequality and campaign finance reform.

“The people of Iowa have sent a very profound message to the political establishment and to the media establishment, and that is given the enormous crises facing these country it is just too late for establishment politics,” he told supporters.