You’ve heard all of the miserably catchy political slogans, “Feel The Bern,” “Hill Yes,” “I’m With Her,” “TrusTed,” “Defeat The Washington Machine. Unleash The American Dream,” “Jeb!” and “Make America Great Again.” You’ve been inundated with sound bites and debates for the past several months. Now we finally get the first real barometer of the legitimacy of the 2016 presidential candidates: the Iowa Caucuses.
The Iowa Caucuses officially start up the 2016 presidential race. There were 1,681 precincts throughout the Hawkeye state where voting took place on Monday. Here is how the Republican race shaped up.
Sen. Ted Cruz, won the Iowa GOP caucus, and did so in impressive manner by accumulating the most votes ever in Iowa by a single candidate. Now Cruz shouldn’t go poppin’ bottles and celebrating just yet because a win in Iowa does not automatically punch a candidate’s ticket to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. The past two Republican caucus winners, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, severely flopped after winning Iowa. For Democrats, Barack Obama unexpectedly won in 2008, and it proved to be instrumental in garnering the Democratic nomination.
The Democratic results were far closer. It turned out as a real barn-burner, where Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were in a virtual tie in Iowa Democratic caucus.
“The results tonight are the closest in Iowa Democratic caucus history,” Iowa party chairman Andy McGuire said. “We will report that final precinct when we have confirmed those results with the chair.”
Hillary’s camp declared victory in Iowa in the wee hours of the night.
And Hillary’s supporters seemed hungry for a win in Iowa, especially sticker face guy.
Bill Clinton was busy dreaming of being the first non-female First Lady or he was high AF.
The polls were so extremely close that some Democratic caucus precincts decided the winner with a coin toss. Yes. A coin toss. Your future president could be determined by a flip of a coin.
There were disputes in precinct 2-4 in Ames, where 60 caucus participants oddly just disappeared. There was originally 484 eligible caucus attendees, but after another count it turned out to only be 424 individuals. The discrepancy in voters caused the Sanders campaign to challenge the results and party officials advised them to do coin toss to determine how a delegate would be assigned.
A Clinton supporter correctly called “heads” when a quarter was flipped, and Hillary received a fifth delegate.
Similar situations were reported elsewhere, and as luck would have it, Clinton won all five coin tosses.
Meanwhile for other candidates, Iowa was the harsh slap in the face that they don’t have a chance in winning. Gov. Mike Huckabee pulled out of the race. And even before the final results were tallied, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley ended his campaign after embarrassing poll numbers.
In the Iowa Caucuses, Republican voters cast secret ballots like you’re accustomed to, but Democrats have a more complex process. Democratic voters must publicly endorse their candidate and then be grouped with voters of the same politician in a room. In order for a candidate to get their own room they must have at least 15 percent of the vote.
For supporters of candidates with less than 15 percent, such as O’Malley, they must go decide to vote for a legitimate candidate or leave the voting process all together. The percentage of support is extremely important because it determines how many delegates are awarded to each legitimate candidate.
The candidates on both sides brought optimism and enthusiasm to new voters. Approximately 4 in 10 participants in each party said they were caucusing for the first time.
In his post-victory speech, Cruz immediately took shots at Donald Trump.
“Iowa has sent notice that the Republican nominee and the next President of the United States will not be chosen by the media, will not be chosen by the Washington establishment.”
Trump also gave a speech, and was rather humble. He thanked Iowa and congratulated Cruz on the victory.
“We will go on to get the Republican nomination and we will go on to easily beat Hillary or Bernie,” Trump told his supporters. “We finished second, and I have to say I am just honored.”
Some consider Sen. Marco Rubio as the real winner of Iowa since his poll numbers rose so much that he challenged Trump for second place and lost to the real estate mogul by only 1 percent. The beginning of his post-caucus speech had nearly the identical sentiment as Obama’s Iowa speech from 2008.
“So this is the moment they said would never happen. For months, for months they told us we had no chance. For months they told us because we offer too much optimism in a time of anger, we had no chance. For months they told us because we didn’t have the right endorsements or the right political connections, we had no chance. They told me that we have no chance because my hair wasn’t gray enough and my boots were too high.”
Speaking of Obama, Hillary was getting flashbacks to 2008, where she was upset by the current Commander-in-Chief. Hillary, who has been the Democratic favorite during the entire process thus far, found herself deadlocked in a race with democratic socialist Bernie Sanders. The national front-runner, admitted breathing she breathed a “big sigh of relief” after escaping Iowa in a virtual tie with Sanders.
Three months ago, Sanders trailed Clinton in Iowa by 30 points. Sanders gave his speech to a raucous crowd chanting “BERNIE! BERNIE! BERNIE!”
“Nine months ago, we came to this beautiful state, we had no political organization, we had no money, we had no name recognition and we were taking on the most powerful political organization in the United States of America.”
The candidates now head to New Hampshire where they do this entire process all over again.
Polls show Sanders, who gets home field advantage since he is a Vermont senator, dominating Clinton in New Hampshire. Sanders is more than doubling Clinton in the latest University of Massachusetts-Lowell/7 News survey by the margin of 61 percent to 30 percent.
On the Republican side, 2016 presidential hopefuls must cater to a much different voter base. In a mostly rural Iowa – corn, ethanol and evangelicals are king. But New Hampshire is more moderate, more fiscally frugal and less religious.
Wayne Lesperance, a professor of political science at New England College in Henniker, N.H., told the Washington Post, “New Hampshire has gone differently than Iowa in six of the last nine elections on the Republican side, so the idea that one follows the other’s lead just doesn’t bear out.”
Real Clear Politics shows that Trump has a commanding lead in New Hampshire, tripling the next closest candidate. Surprisingly, Ohio Gov. John Kasich is polling quite well in New Hampshire, tied for second with Ted Cruz.
Only 279 days until the actual election.