Cruz takes Iowa, Clinton narrowly defeats Sanders

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Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has won Iowa's Republican caucuses, moving past billionaire Donald Trump and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. 
 
Cruz's victory over Trump is credited in part to his massive get-out-the-vote operation in Iowa and the months he spent wooing the state's influential conservative and evangelical leaders. 
 
It was also a harsh blow to Trump, the supremely confident real estate mogul who has riled the Republican field for months with controversial statements about women and minorities.
 
Amid historically large turnout in Iowa, the unexpected benefactor was Rubio, who came within striking distance of Trump. Republicans had already been looking to New Hampshire to winnow their congested field, and the Florida senator's strong showing bolsters his case that Republicans should coalesce behind him as the mainstream alternative to the rowdier Trump or Cruz.
"We have taken the first step, but an important step, to winning the nomination," Rubio told supporters in Des Moines.
 
Voters at Republican caucuses indicated they were deeply unhappy with the way the federal government is working. Half said they were dissatisfied and 4 in 10 said they were angry, according to surveys conducted by Edison Research for The Associated Press and the television networks.
 
On the Democratic side, the contest between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders was a cliffhanger - "The results tonight are the closest in Iowa Democratic caucus history," said state party chairman Andy McGuire - a far cry from the coronation for Clinton that most Democrats once expected.
 
Early Tuesday, the Iowa Democratic Party said Clinton had been awarded 699.57 state delegate equivalents while Sanders had received 695.49 state delegate equivalents with one precinct outstanding. That precinct was worth 2.28 state delegate equivalents - not enough for Sanders to make up the deficit.
 
Six in 10 Democratic caucus-goers said they wanted a candidate who would continue Obama administration policies. Young voters overwhelmingly backed Sanders.
 
At least two candidates are withdrawing, Democrat Martin O'Malley and Republican Mike Huckabee. The former governors failed to gain traction.
 
The day after the big day: What to watch in NH and beyond
   
The political suspense isn't over now that the Iowa caucuses are history. There will be plenty of intrigue to track on the day after, too.
 
What to watch Tuesday:
UMM, WHO WON?: The Democratic caucus results were so tight that Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders both went to bed unsure who'd won. Will party bigwigs declare a winner Tuesday or simply leave it as a draw?
CLAIMING VICTORY: There's more than one way to define victory. Multiple candidates will try to claim a win simply by exceeding low expectations. Marco Rubio is fashioning his third-place showing as an "important step to winning the nomination." Rand Paul is trumpeting a "strong top-five finish."
EXIT STRATEGIES: Does Iowa turn into a knockout blow for more bottom-tier candidates? Democrat Martin O'Malley and Republican Mike Huckabee bailed out before midnight on caucus night. More candidates could look for the exits after sleeping on it.
 

 

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