Win, Lose, Draw: Iowa Caucus 2016

Up until now, the presidential election has been all poll numbers and speculation, but now we finally have our first results from the 2016 Iowa caucus on Monday night.

In the Republican caucus, Sen. Ted Cruz “won,” although he only earned one more delegate than Donald Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio, who came in second and third, respectively. Cruz will go into the New Hampshire primary (February 9) with eight delegates. Also picking up delegates in Iowa were Ben Carson, 3; former Gov. Jeb Bush, 1; Carly Fiorina, 1 and Gov. John Kasich, 1.

Gov. Chris Christie and Jim Gilmore (yes, he’s still running) received zero delegates but are staying in the race. Gov. Christie said later in the week, “I performed exactly as I expected in Iowa.” Good for you Governor.

A natural sifting and winnowing of the field always occurs after the first votes, and following the caucus on Monday, Sen. Rand Paul, former Gov. Mike Huckabee (Iowa caucus winner, 2008), and former Sen. Rick Santorum (Iowa caucus winner, 2012) all dropped out of the race.

The biggest loser of the night appears to be Donald Trump, although that’s to be expected if you always refer to yourself as a winner, and only come in second.

The big winners of the night were Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Cruz not only won but impressed politicos with his highly organized get-out-the-vote effort. By total numbers, his win was small (only 51,666 actual votes and 72% of voters did not vote for him). However, a win is a win. Especially in the Iowa GOP caucus, where so many presidents have won before. There have been seven contested GOP Iowa caucuses in the last 40 years; three winners have gone on to be the GOP nominee, and only one was elected president.

Marco Rubio came out a winner with his third place finish by defying odds and nearly overcoming Donald Trump in the caucus. In the days leading up the caucus, Rubio spent time in TV interviews lowering expectations by talking about how strong Ted Cruz’s organization was in Iowa. Simultaneously, Rubio’s campaign was making a huge push to catapult him to the top of the candidates in caucus, with 30-minute infomercials.

Here’s who is on the ballot for next Tuesday’s GOP primary in New Hampshire: Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, John Kasich, Marco Rubio and Donald Trump.

As we head into New Hampshire, Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight has Trump coming in first by a much wider margin than was predicted for the Iowa Caucus. In second and third are Rubio and Cruz. John Kasich has stated that if he does not get a good showing in New Hampshire then he will probably wrap up the campaign. Other establishment candidates Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, combined, are projected to get less than 5% of the vote in New Hampshire.

On the Democrats side, the caucus was a lot closer. Hillary Clinton came away with a win, but only just barely. With Clinton taking 49.86% of the vote, Bernie Sanders was very close with 49.57%, leaving Hillary with just two more delegates than Bernie. Some say the close contest is bad for Hillary, but others see the silver lining for the Democratic Party. With a very close race, the candidates will be forced to connect with voters, allowing the Democratic Party to collect voter data and have facetime, which will aid in the grassroots effort necessary to win a general election.

As we head into New Hampshire, it is just Hillary and Bernie on the left side of the ticket, as Martin O’Malley, the only other Democratic candidate, dropped out of the race on Monday night.

As to the expected winner, everyone is all in for Bernie taking the win in New Hampshire for the Democrats. FiveThirtyEight predicts Hillary has only a 1% chance of winning.