Cruz beats Trump in Iowa; Sanders tests Clinton
DES MOINES, Iowa -- Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas won a narrow victory over Donald Trump and a surprisingly strong Sen. Marco Rubio in the Iowa Republican caucuses Monday night.In the Democratic caucuses, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held a...
DES MOINES, Iowa - Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas won a narrow victory over Donald Trump and a surprisingly strong Sen. Marco Rubio in the Iowa Republican caucuses Monday night.
In the Democratic caucuses, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held a razor-thin lead over liberal challenger Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. She led by less than 1 percent of the estimated Democratic votes with 94 percent of precincts reporting.
With 99 percent of GOP precincts reporting, Cruz had 28 percent of the vote, and Trump had 24 percent. Rubio had 23 percent.
Trump, a flamboyant businessman who has never held elective office, had led in most polls and may be disappointed in his showing.
Rubio's strength will draw the attention of the Republican Party's establishment, which is looking to coalesce around a candidate who could challenge Cruz and Trump.
"We are not waiting any longer!" Rubio told cheering supporters at his election night rally. "I thank you. ... I will be our nominee."
He was among the first of the candidates to speak.
Trump appeared soon afterward, thanking Iowans, congratulating Cruz and vowing to fight on in New Hampshire, where he leads in polls. New Hampshire holds the first primary Feb. 9.
Sam Martin caucused for Rubio on Monday. He said Rubio was "not as extreme as Ted Cruz, and he's not as stupid as Donald Trump."
At a Republican caucus in Clive, Cruz supporter Leah Stroh called the Texas senator a "Christ-centered" candidate reliably opposed to abortion. Trump, she said, is an "unintelligent" person who tells people what they want to hear.
Cruz followed a traditional electoral strategy in Iowa. His staff was in the state for months, using new data analytics to understand the electorate and to reach out to caucus-goers.
He appeared to survive his sometimes confusing criticism of government help for the ethanol industry. Many Iowans depend on the fuel blend for jobs and income.
Trump caucusers were not discouraged by the outcome. Michael Messer said he'd been excited about Trump for months.
"He's the only guy who's not bought and paid for by somebody else," Messer said.
Trump turned conventional campaign wisdom on its head. He didn't buy enormous amounts of television time or engage in the person-to-person politics thought to be important in Iowa. His campaign outreach was thought to be inferior to Cruz's.
Yet he barnstormed the state in the final weeks, drawing enormous crowds and media attention. He promised to build a wall on the Mexican border, to take care of veterans and to "make America great again."
He claimed endorsements from Tea Party favorite Sarah Palin and minister Jerry Falwell Jr. He produced a video holding up a Bible. He skipped the final debate before the caucuses, claiming disrespect from Fox News.
The formula proved powerful for thousands of Iowans, including many who had never caucused before.
But a sizable portion of the Republican establishment deeply distrusts Trump. Many aired their concerns in National Review, a well-known conservative publication, in the closing days of the Iowa campaign.
Those attacks may have cut into the businessman's support.
Ben Carson, a physician who also lacks political experience, had less than 10 percent of GOP caucus votes Monday.
The other Republicans - Govs. Chris Christie and John Kasich, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Sen. Rand Paul, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Carly Fiorina - were not expected to get vote percentages in the double digits. Huckabee suspended his campaign Monday night.
Clinton had battled an insurgent challenge from Sanders, a self-described Democratic socialist. Sanders electrified audiences across the state, particularly in college communities with younger voters, in the final days of the race.
Clinton campaigned on her experience, in Iowa and in Washington. She argued for a moderate approach to change, and emphasized her support for President Barack Obama.
She also used the new tools of data and outreach to improve her performance in the complicated caucuses. Many compared her organizational efforts to Obama's in 2008.
Sanders, by contrast, relied on the enthusiasm of his supporters for his caucus success. Considered the most unlikely of candidates six months ago, he was able to convince thousands of Iowans that his liberal proposals deserved consideration.
Rachel Cataldo said she'd decided Monday to caucus for Sanders. The barista said she thought he'd be a strong advocate for "the people."
Sanders "is looking to help the young people, and the people who are not the 1 percent," she said.
Kathy Adams, a psychiatrist nurse practitioner, said she'd long admired Clinton and had caucused for her in 2008. She was eager to support Clinton again Monday.
"She's brilliant," Adams said. "I think we need intelligent female energy."
Clinton told audiences that Sanders' ideas would be too difficult to achieve. He has argued for a new focus on wages, health care and campaign finance revisions.
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, also competed in Iowa. His poor showing resulted in an end to his campaign Monday night.