It was a photo finish this morning for the Democratic candidates with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton squeaking by with an apparent victory over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) with a 0.3-percent lead in the Iowa caucus. Some in the media such at the Associated Press aren’t ready to declare a victor.
The final results for the Democrats were Clinton with 49.9 percent, Sanders with 49.6 percent. The Clinton campaign claimed a humble win 3:35 a.m., hours after the Republicans found Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas as their victor. However, some precincts are still unaccounted for and the Sanders campaign is calling for a raw vote count.
Clinton was awarded 699.57 state delegate equivalents, versus 695.49 for Sanders. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley suspended his bid for the presidency only about an hour into the night.
Matt Paul, Hillary for America’s Iowa State Director, released a statement following Clinton’s caucus victory: "Hillary Clinton has won the Iowa Caucus. After thorough reporting – and analysis – of results, there is no uncertainty and Secretary Clinton has clearly won the most national and state delegates."
Sanders' spokeswoman Rania Batrice noted that one precinct remained outstanding, and said there were questions about the results in several other counties. "We definitely don't feel comfortable yet," she said early Tuesday.
NBC dubbed last night as the closest Iowa caucus for Democrats in history. The nail-biting battle for Iowa was literally decided by coin tosses to settle ties between the Vermont senator and former first lady. Some coin tosses went in Sanders' favor but some reports suggest Clinton made out with the most coin toss victories.
Neither candidate made a formal victory speech, however they both spoke to their supporters.
“Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!” was chanted as the Democratic underdog took the stage to thank supporters. “Iowa, thank you,” he said. “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.” Sanders went on to declare a “virtual tie.”
The smile on Sanders’ face was not the smile of a man that just lost a state — it was the smile of a man that knows he proved he can take on establishment politics.
Clinton gave a nod to Sanders’ strong showing in the Hawkeye state, saying, “I am excited about really getting into the debate with Sen. Sanders about the best way forward.”
“We have to be united against Republicans who will divide us,” she continued. “I intend to stand against it.”
Clinton started the race with a huge lead over Sanders, and while she can technically claim victory, her razor-thin win signals that her inevitability has drastically evaporated.
Some Clinton supporters might be worried the former secretary of state’s underestimation of Sanders’ populist campaign could lead to a repeat of 2008 when Barack Obama seemingly swooped out of nowhere and stole the election.
Polls showed Clinton as the presumptive nominee, with 60 percent when the fight for the Democratic nomination kicked off in May (Sanders had just 10 percent support). Few people in America knew who the Independent Vermont senator was.
The field of only two Democratic candidates goes into Tuesday’s New Hampshire with Sanders in the lead by 19 points, according to the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.
Without a clear loss in Iowa, the momentum can give Sanders the needed financial and popularity boost to battle Clinton well into spring. "We're going to fight really hard in New Hampshire and then we're going to Nevada, to South Carolina, we're doing well around the country," Sanders said getting off a plane in New Hampshire this morning.
For young liberals around the country, the summer blockbuster was not the potential for the first woman president — it was a 74-year-old white Jewish career politician. Sanders is a frequent guest on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, which could be how some on the left initially knew about the Democratic socialist.
His rhetoric of lifting the weight of student debt and increasing the minimum wage plays well to the college crowd, who on average graduate with $29,000 of debt, according to the Department of Education.
Entrance polling of caucus-goers in Iowa showed that Sanders controlled the young vote with 90 percent of voters under 30 “feeling the Bern” along with voters making $50,000 or less. Clinton owned the female demographic with 57 percent, and moderate voters.
The Republican war for Iowa was not as much as an edge-of-your-seat ride. Sen. Ted Cruz claimed an early victory with 28 percent of the vote.
Donald Trump claimed a close second-place finish with 24.3 percent and Sen. Marco Rubio took an expected third-place with 23.1 percent.
Ben Carson ended the night with 9.3 percent of the vote, Sen. Rand Paul got 4.5 percent, and Jeb Bush came in with a disappointing 2.8 percent despite pouring $16 million into Iowa advertisement.
Despite losing Iowa, Trump gathered the second-largest amount of votes in Iowa caucus history — Cruz of course received a historic level of support with the most support in the state’s history.
Trump delivered a humble and short defeat speech.
“We finished second and I just want to tell you something — I’m just honored,” Trump said to supporters. “I want to congratulate Ted and the I wanna congratulate all the incredible candidate including Mike Huckabee who has become a really good friend of mine. We will easily go on to defeat Hillary or Bernie who whoever the hell they throw up there”
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee suspended his campaign last night.
Cruz didn’t mention Trump by name in his victory speech, but continued his firebrand politics that secured his Iowa victory.
“Tonight is a victory for every American who understands that after we survive eight long years of the Obama presidency, no one personality can right the wrongs done by Washington,” the freshman senator said.
Rubio delivered what sounded like a speech that was written in case the Florida senator secured Iowa. "So this is the moment they told us would never happen,” he said. “They told me my hair wasn't grey enough. They told me my boots were too high. They told me to wait my turn."
The polls missed foreseeing Cruz’s victory, but virtually all predictions going into Iowa showed Rubio taking third place.
The Ohio primary is March 15.