Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton won a narrow victory over Bernie Sanders in the Iowa caucus, final results showed Tuesday, while Republican Ted Cruz stunned Donald Trump by winning the most votes in the first test of the 2016 race.
With 100 percent of precincts counted the morning after Monday’s hair-raising Iowa caucus, Clinton took 49.8 percent, against 49.6 percent for Sanders, marking what state Democratic party chair Andy McGuire called “the closest [race] in Iowa Democratic caucus history”.
On the Republican side, Cruz, a conservative lawmaker from Texas, won with 28 percent of the vote compared to 24 percent for billionaire businessman Trump, whose unorthodox campaign has been marked by controversies ranging from his calls to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the US to building a wall along the US-Mexican border.
“This really wasn’t the plan for Donald Trump, his campaign is built largely on being a ‘winner’. He’s always said he’s good at winning things and being a winner during his business career. Well, he clearly didn’t win this time around,” said FRANCE 24’s Philip Crowther reporting from Des Moines, Iowa.
Observers said Cruz had been buoyed in Iowa by evangelical voters. "To God be the glory!" Cruz exclaimed during his victory speech, hoping to establish himself as the candidate of religious conservatives.
An uncharacteristically subdued Trump congratulated Cruz after the results and said he still expected to win the Republican nomination for the November 8 election.
Marco Rubio came third with 23 percent of the vote, in a stronger-than-expected finish establishing the senator from Florida as the mainstream alternative to the two Republican frontrunners in the 2016 race.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee – who pulled off a surprise win in the Iowa caucus in 2008 – said he was suspending his campaign for the Republican Party nomination.
Iowa has held the first nominating contests, called caucuses, since the early 1970s, giving it extra weight in the US electoral process that can have ramifications in the rest of the presidential races.
Clinton with narrow lead
For the Democrats, the 2016 presidential race kicked off with a nail-biter as frontrunner Clinton prevailed by only four delegates over Sanders, a Vermont senator considered an old school socialist.
At 74, Sanders’ age is widely viewed as a major disadvantage, but the self-described democratic socialist has galvanised the youth vote, with his volunteers attacking the Clinton campaign from the left.
“It’s an extraordinary result, and certainly good for Bernie Sanders when you consider where he came from. He was considered not a very serious candidate six months ago when he first entered this race,” said FRANCE 24’s Crowther.
The former secretary of state now knows she has a real fight on her hands for the nomination, Clinton had hoped for a strong showing at Iowa to finish off Sanders’ candidacy, but opinion polls currently suggest the Vermont senator is leading in New Hampshire, the next state to vote for presidential nominees on February 9.
Who is Ted Cruz?
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)
Date created : 2016-02-02