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Ted Cruz beats Trump in Iowa presidential race, Rubio takes third

Ted Cruz defeated Donald Trump handily in the Republican caucuses in Iowa Monday night and Hillary Clinton scraped by with the narrowest of wins over Bernie Sanders.

world Updated: Feb 03, 2016 00:09 IST
Yashwant Raj
Iowa
Cruz’s win deals a severe blow to the campaign of Donald Trump, who was seen as being the favourite for the Republican ticket.(REUTERS Photo)

Ted Cruz defeated Donald Trump handily in the Republican caucuses in Iowa Monday night and Hillary Clinton scraped by with the narrowest of wins over Bernie Sanders.

The Democratic race was so close that Associated Press, which is often the first to call elections, finally announced Clinton the winner Tuesday afternoon, more than 12 hours after the close of caucuses.

With 100% of precincts (areas contiguous with police jurisdictions) reporting, Clinton got 49.86% of the delegates, Sanders 49.57% and Martin O’Malley 0.57%

But the Clinton campaign had declared victory much earlier, while called it a “virtual tie”. O’Malley didn’t wait for the final results either, and dropped out of the race.

There was a casualty on the Republican side too — former governor Mike Huckabee and the winner of the Iowa caucuses in 2008, who announced he was suspending his campaign.

But it was Cruz’s emphatic win that dominated commentary on the Republican race — he had taken down Trump, the front-runner who had made winning the centerpiece of his campaign.

“To God be the glory,” Cruz said in his victory speech. “Tonight is a victory for the grass roots. Tonight is a victory for courageous conservatives all across Iowa and our great nation.”

Cruz had the better ground game in Iowa, while Trump may have drawn more crowds and made more headlines, skipping the last presidential debate over a feud with host network Fox.

Cruz, a first-time Cuban-American senator from Texas, was expected to win Iowa, but he seemed to have lost the initiative in recent weeks, slipping back in polls behind Trump.

The flashy real-estate tycoon from New York who had dominated the Republican race since he jumped in, was back in the lead, happily citing poll numbers as he always did.

But Iowa had other ideas, and it made them known Monday.

Cruz supporters celebrate the news that the conservative senator had won. (AP Photo)

Republican party establishment favourite Marco Rubio finished a strong third that will keep him within striking distance of the nomination as the race moves to New Hampshire.

If there was a third winner Monday night, that would be the pollsters, who had rightly predicted a close race with leading candidates within margins of error, wary of hazarding a bad bet.

Iowa caucuses kick off US presidential primaries and winners tend to get a boost that places their candidacy on the road to the White House, as it did for Barack Obama in 2008.

But not all winners end up in the White House. Huckabee, the candidate who became the first Republican to pull out tonight, won Iowa in 2008 but failed to go the distance.

Rick Santorum, a Republican who won Iowa in 2012, pulled out out a few months later conceding the party nomination to Mitt Romney, who lost eventually to President Obama.