Update: February 2, 12:30 a.m.: In his first victory speech, Cruz said, “Tonight is a victory for the grassroots. Tonight…The state of Iowa has spoken. Iowa has sent notice that the Republican nominee for the next President of the United States will not be chosen by the media, will not be chosen by the Washington establishment, will not be chosen by the lobbyists, but will be chosen by the most incredible, powerful force where all sovereignty resides in our nation: by we, the people, the American people.” Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” played in the background. Donald Trump spoke earlier, in an unexpectedly gracious concession speech. “I love the people of Iowa. I’m just honored. I’m really honored.” He congratulated and thanked his fellow candidates, adding a special shoutout to Mike Huckabee, who announced his withdrawal from the contest. On the other hand, with 95% of precincts reporting, Clinton and Sanders were still deadlocked at 49.8% and 49.6%, respectively. Hillary Clinton took the stage to speak to supporters, proclaiming, “I am a progressive.” Clinton opted to identify the similarities between Sanders and herself, while still asserting a sense of strength in her marginal lead. Only decimal points ahead of Sanders, she avoided declaring a clear victory. Clinton mentioned that she welcomes the opportunity for a battle of ideas with Sanders. Later, Sanders said, “It looks like we are in a virtual tie.” Mostly, the Vermont senator reinforced his passionate stance on universal healthcare — “I believe that healthcare is a right, not a privilege,” adding that a single-payer option “will save the average middle-class family thousands of dollars a year” — and his emphasis on the detrimental role of corporate money that finances the campaigns of both parties. Sanders concluded that no president will be able to make the changes America needs until the status-quo is changed, “because the powers that be, [including] Wall Street, with their endless supply of money...are so powerful that no president can do what has to be done alone. That is why tonight is a political revolution.” David Bowie’s “Starman” played as Sanders wrapped up his speech, with the track skipping several times.
Original story, published at 10:30 p.m. EST, follows.
Voters in Iowa took to the polls on Monday night to vote for their 2016 presidential nominees. With approximately 83.8% precincts reporting, Texas Senator Ted Cruz is presumed the winner in Iowa’s Republican caucus. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is decimal points ahead of Bernie Sanders in a race that’s still too close to call. Beyond being the first vote of the 2016 campaign, the Iowa caucuses are considered of particular importance, as tonight sets the stage for a culling of the 12 potential Republican nominees currently in the running. According to Republican polls released today, Trump was expected to beat Ted Cruz. But as loud as Trump and Cruz have been, on the GOP side it’s a three-man race. Marco Rubio has surged ahead for a close third. Of three Democratic candidates vying for the nomination, the race between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton has been down to the wire. At this writing, the two candidates were within a single-digit margin, with Hillary Clinton ahead 50.1% to Bernie Sanders’s 49.2%. With just half a percent (0.5%) of the Democratic vote, Martin O’Malley announced that he would suspend his campaign. The former Governor of Maryland was expected to make a statement later Monday evening, according to the Washington Post. Clinton is considered marginally ahead of Sanders in the polls, but the outcome depends on the demographics of voter turnout in each county. Eleven Iowan counties could go either way tonight, according to Politico. Iowa has been first to get out the vote in the presidential primaries since 1972. However, while the state is tasked with narrowing down the candidates, it is not demographically representative of the country at large: though Latinos are currently the fastest-growing racial group in the state, Iowa is mostly rural and approximately 87.1% white or non-Hispanic, according to NPR.