Iowa Caucuses

By Blake Wood, Staff Writer

Last night was the Iowa caucuses, the first vote that actually counts in the road to each party’s nomination. Generally speaking, winning Iowa is not crucial to winning the election. To put it in perspective, the past two republican Iowa caucus winners were Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee, who of course did not win the nomination. This isn’t to say that Iowa is irrelevant, but simply winning Iowa does not mean that your candidate is necessarily on their way to claiming the nomination. Here are my biggest takeaways.

Marco Rubio is for real. Polling at roughly 16% before the caucus, Rubio was widely expected to come in a distant third place behind Trump and Cruz. Rubio did come in third, but far outperformed expectations, winning 23% of the votes and finishing only 1% behind Donald Trump’s 24%. As an establishment candidate that is far more appealing to the Republican elite, look for Rubio to see an increase in donations and support, and to become the establishment front runner. Once the other establishment candidates step down (Kasich, Christie and Bush), Rubio will likely see most of those votes flow towards him, which of course is beneficial. Look out for Rubio as the primaries continue.

Donald Trump is in trouble. I don’t want to overreact and say the sky is falling, but this couldn’t have gone worse for Trump. Throughout his campaign he has quoted polls and gloated about how far ahead he was and how he was a winner. It turns out many of those supporters either didn’t vote, or changed their minds before the caucuses. For whatever reason, Trump wasn’t able to translate his success in the polls to a success in the caucuses and that doesn’t bode well for him. He’s still a leading anti-establishment candidate along with Ted Cruz, (the Iowa winner), but the days of people assuming Trump was a lock for the nomination are over. Trump will have a serious fight vs Cruz and Rubio, who as noted above, is seeing an increase in support. Trump needs a victory in New Hampshire or his dreams of being the Republican nominee could fall out of reach.

Sanders and Clinton finished in a virtual tie in the polls, with Clinton taking 24 delegates to Sanders’ 21. Sanders should win New Hampshire based on the current polling, but he’s still fighting an uphill battle overall to win the nomination. He really needs to parlay any momentum and media attention he gets from Iowa and New Hampshire into South Carolina and the other primaries if he wants to win the nomination.

Ted Cruz won the Republican nomination, taking 28% of the votes. It was an upset win in the gambling world and it looks as if Cruz’s ground game paid off. He’s facing an uphill battle in New Hampshire, but the overall nomination is up for grabs and Cruz helped cement his spot in the race with his victory in Iowa.