Sweet: Cruz control — Donald Trumped in Iowa; Clinton can’t beat Sanders

SHARE Sweet: Cruz control — Donald Trumped in Iowa; Clinton can’t beat Sanders
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People cheers as Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is declared the winner at the caucus night gathering at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on February 1, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Fueled by evangelical voters, Ted Cruz won the Iowa GOP vote Monday, Donald Trump finished second with Marco Rubio close behind. Democrat Hillary Clinton could not defeat Bernie Sanders, with their race a tie in the nation’s first test of presidential strengths.

But the rank order of the outcome of the Iowa caucuses, as projected by the Associated Press and TV networks, is only part of the story as the 2016 race for the White House now pivots to the Feb. 9 New Hampshire primary.

“They told me that we had no chance, because my hair wasn’t grey enough or my boots were too high,” a jubilant Rubio said, with the strong showing by the Florida senator sounding like a victory speech even though he placed third. “New Hampshire, we will see you in the morning.”

Trump, who bragged constantly and obsessively about polling putting him in first, faced the reality of a second place finish decided by real voters – not surveys.

Trump spoke for less than three minutes and did not take any shots at Cruz, who he relentlessly beat up in the closing weeks of the Iowa race, accusing him, among other things, of being unpopular and not eligible to become president because he was born in Canada.

“We finished second,” he conceded, switching immediately to talking about a New Hampshire poll putting him 28 points ahead. Trump now has to decide if he keeps attacking Cruz, the new GOP frontrunner, makes more of a case for himself or now targets Rubio for his taunts.

Cruz, the Texas senator won a decisive victory, at 28 per cent, four points ahead of Trump and Cruz. “God be the glory,” Cruz said in a speech laced with biblical references.

“Tonight is a victory for the grassroots,” Cruz said. Not depending on prayer alone, Cruz ran a massive get-out-the-vote and ground-game operation. Quoting a psalm, “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning,” Cruz said Iowa proclaimed, “morning is coming.”

Clinton, with all her assets, could not decisively beat Sanders and she now heads to the New Hampshire primary facing a stronger, not weaker Sanders, appearing to beat him only by a few tenths of percent.

When she spoke Monday night she did not declare victory. Rather she thanked Iowa, saying, “As I stand here tonight, breathing a big sigh of relief.”

Forced to run to the left by Sanders, the Vermont senator and self-described socialist, Clinton, flanked by husband, Bill, and daughter, Chelsea, called her self “a progressive who gets things done for people.”

With the virtual tie, Sanders said his campaign took on “the most powerful political organization in the United States,” not using Clinton’s name.

“What I have begun tonight is a political revolution,” Sanders said.

Like Cruz, Rubio and Trump, Sanders also took aim at the “media establishment,” singling out the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post editorial writers in his quasi victory speech.

Confronted with a dismal Iowa showing in the Democratic caucus, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley suspended his campaign on Monday and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee also quit.

CNN entrance polls provided snapshots of the Iowa electorate.

Some 63 percent of Republicans described themselves as born-again or evangelical voters. That helps explain the success of Trump, Cruz, a Texas senator, and Rubio, a Florida senator.

They campaigned hard on social issues in order to appeal to religious – mostly Christian — voters.The CNN entrance poll found Cruz winning the backing of 26 percent of this group to Trump with 24 percent; Rubio with 21 percent and retired surgeon Ben Carson, 12 percent. What is noteworthy for Trump is that he did so well among evangelicals despite his being thrice married and having once been a backer of abortion rights.

Evangelical voters wanted little to do with the more traditional candidates – former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, whose are looking to New Hampshire to revive their candidacies.

Democrats in Iowa broke according to age. Sanders captured the support – almost 9 in 10 – of voters under the age of 24, in somewhat of a re-creation of the youth vote surge that helped then Sen. Barack Obama win Iowa in 2008. Clinton won the backing of caucus goers over 50.

Sanders, a self described democratic socialist, did push Clinton to the left.

Obama’s 2008 Iowa win put him on a path to the White House. Both Clinton and Sanders ran praising Obama. Some 56 percent of Iowa Democratic voters, CNN found, said the next president should continue Obama’s policies, with 32 percent wanting the next president to be more liberal and 7 percent less.

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