Last night the Iowa Caucuses marked the beginning of the presidential primary season in earnest. Ted Cruz came out on top for the Republicans, and Hillary Clinton narrowly leads Bernie Sanders for the Democrats. Reflecting on the Iowa results, US Centre Director Peter Trubowitz writes that Donald Trump and Marco Rubio were also winners, and that Clinton and Sanders’ close result means that the race between the two may be about to become much more heated.
The big takeaway from the results of last night’s Iowa Caucus is that the race for the White House just got a whole lot more interesting. Don’t pay attention to the headlines saying that: “Trump lost; Hillary won.” Last night there were 5 winners!
On the Republican side the winners were Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, and Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Cruz won the state he needed to win to go forward. If he couldn’t win a heavily evangelical state like Iowa, he was probably done and dusted.
With 24 percent of the vote, Trump did worse than the polls predicted, but better than anyone with what Ted Cruz termed his “New York values,” could reasonably expect in this highly conservative, religious state. Moreover, he did it without a ground game.
Rubio beat the odds-makers to gain third place just behind Trump, and will now likely receive a boost in money from Republican donors who will see him as the best bet to take out Trump and Cruz.
On the Democratic side, I think it is fair to say that both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders did what they had to do.
Clinton put the ghost of 2008 behind her, where she came in a surprising third, behind Barack Obama and John Edwards. Sanders showed that he has game — this was an impressive performance and will generate even more enthusiasm for his insurgent campaign.
What can we expect next?
Donald Trump will start spending money to guarantee a win in New Hampshire. For a candidate who puts such an enormous emphasis on ‘winning’ a second loss could well be disastrous for his narrative.
Marco Rubio will become the target of fierce attack ads by other Republicans hoping to be the “establishment” candidate.
Clinton will step up her attacks on Sanders. She leads him in the national polls, but he’s way ahead in New Hampshire and momentum matters in presidential politics. If the national polls continue to close between the two heading into the South Carolina primary on February 27th, this could be a signal that the race between them will run and run.
Note: This article gives the views of the author, and not the position of USAPP – American Politics and Policy, nor the London School of Economics.
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Peter Trubowitz – LSE US Centre
Peter Trubowitz is Professor of International Relations, and Director of the LSE’s US Centre. His main research interests are in the fields of international security and comparative foreign policy, with special focus on American grand strategy and foreign policy. He also writes and comments frequently on U.S. party politics and elections and how they shape and are shaped by America’s changing place in the world.