The Most Surprising Things About Last Night's Caucuses

Photo: Patrick Semansky/ AP Photo.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz won the Iowa Republican caucus on Monday, reeling in 28% of the vote. But Cruz's unexpected win — many anticipated Trump to win the caucus, although he only managed to pull 24% of the vote — was far from the lone shocker to happen in Iowa. We've rounded up some of the best surprises you might have missed on Monday night.

1. Hillary Clinton barely won the Iowa Democratic caucus — it's STILL a toss-up.


In their speeches Monday night, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders acknowledged what Sanders called "a virtual tie" at the event. Neither of the Democratic candidates declared victory in their comments Monday. Clinton's campaign, though, declared a convincing victory on Monday, before the final results were tallied.

On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that Clinton had managed a narrow win at the Iowa Democratic caucus. Clinton received 49.9% of votes, while Sanders captured 49.6% of votes. Interestingly, the Times also found that 49.7% of caucus voters who had favored Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign supported Sanders in Monday's caucus. Clinton's narrow win could be a cause of concern for her campaign as she prepares for the New Hampshire Democratic primary, which Sanders is expected to win.

2. Mike Huckabee dropped out of the race after receiving a fraction of the votes he got in 2008, but Jim Gilmore's campaign is still going strong, with 0.0% of the Iowa Republican caucus vote.

In 2008, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee won the Iowa Republican caucus with 34.4% of the vote. This year, Huckabee received just 1.8% of votes at the Iowa Republican caucus. Huckabee ended his 2016 presidential campaign on Monday, as did Democratic candidate Martin O'Malley.

Another one-time Iowa winner, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who came out on top in 2012 with 24.6% of the vote, received just 1.0% of votes at the 2016 caucus. Santorum hasn't officially suspended his campaign, though CNN notes that Monday's caucus is likely the end of his presidential bid this year. Jim Gilmore, former Virginia Gov., hasn't participated in the Republican primary debates due to low polling numbers — but he hasn't stopped his campaign, despite receiving 0.0% of Monday's vote.

3. Ben Carson couldn't think of a better excuse for leaving Iowa than needing clean clothes.

On Monday night, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson's campaign announced that he was leaving Iowa to get "a fresh set of clothes." The campaign announcement made clear that Carson was not suspending his presidential bid; Carson received 9.3% of votes at the Iowa Republican primary.

According to CNN, Carson delivered his comments on Monday night before the full caucus results were in, so that he could fly back to Florida to get some clean clothes. Carson will travel to Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, following his quick trip to Florida. While Iowa has large agricultural and blue-collar economies, it has plentiful options for high quality suits.

4. Donald Trump's speech on Monday was surprisingly nice.

Kindness might not be the first thing you think of when you hear the name Donald J. Trump. The businessman gained 24.3% of votes at the Iowa Republican caucus, but lost the night to Ted Cruz. However, Trump's comments on Monday night were quite different from his usual incendiary speeches. When discussing his second-place result, Trump said, "I'm just honored."

Trump added that he'd be traveling to New Hampshire this week, and refrained from praising himself, as he's done in past speeches. "We will go on to get the Republican nomination, and we will go on to easily beat Hillary or Bernie or whoever the hell they throw out there," he said in his speech Monday.

5. Ted Cruz called his Iowa win "a victory for the grassroots."


It's hard to know what issues Republican caucus-goers were most concerned about, but Cruz's win on Tuesday proved that "the brew of energy and anger powering [Donald Trump's] candidacy did not fully translate into votes," The New York Times noted. The Republican primary nomination is still anyone's game, which means upcoming contests in New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina will include a lot of fireworks. "Tonight is a victory for the grassroots," Cruz told supporters Monday. "Tonight is a victory for courageous conservatives all across Iowa and our great nation."
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