Sen. Ted Cruz from Texas won the Republican Iowa caucus on Monday night, relegating front runner Donald Trump to second place.
Cruz finished with 27.6% of the vote. Trump finished with 24.3% of the vote, and third place candidate Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida received 23.1%.
“The victory for Cruz,” reported CNN, “is the first time that the conventional laws of politics have applied to Trump, a billionaire businessman who has built his campaign around the perception that he’s a winner who can bring his unique skills to the White House.”
And as the Des Moines Register reported: “Ted Cruz delivered Donald Trump a body blow in Iowa, giving him an unexpected smackdown in the first-in-the-nation presidential vote.”
Cruz, an anti-Washington crusader and proud thorn in establishment Republicans’ sides, won enough support from evangelical conservatives and tea party voters to put him over the top, despite being five points down in the final Iowa Poll before the caucuses.
The 45-year-old Texas U.S. senator, who logged more than 150 events over 56 days in Iowa this election cycle, upheld the longtime theory that a traditional ground game and intense one-on-one retail politicking matter.
Iowa, a state where almost half of likely GOP caucus goers identify themselves as born-again or evangelical Christians, continued its trend of promoting a social conservative rather than the national front-runner. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton won by a narrow margin: 49.9% of the vote to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 49.6%. The final decision wasn’t reached until Tuesday afternoon.
“I am so thrilled,” Clinton said in an interview after hearing the results. “My luck was not that good last time around, and it was wonderful to win the caucus, to have that experience.”
The razor thin margin gives Clinton a somewhat hollow victory for a candidate that most thought would win the nomination easily.
“I think the people of Iowa have sent a very profound message to the political establishment, to the economic establishment, and, by the way, to the media establishment,” said Bernie Sanders on Monday after securing at least a ‘virtual tie’ with national frontrunner Hillary Clinton in Iowa.
In a released statement, Sanders went on to say: “Tonight we accomplished what the corporate media and political establishment once believed was impossible—after trailing Hillary Clinton in Iowa throughout this entire campaign, it looks as if we will leave the state with roughly the same number of delegates.
“I want to be clear with you about what this really means. Tonight’s result is a victory for our political revolution. We have proved that when people come together, anything is possible. New Hampshire votes next, where we have a slight lead in the polls. If we win there, we’ll have all the momentum.”