Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks during a “Canvass Launch” event in the Memorial Union on Jan 31, a day before the first caucus of the presidential race. Sanders spoke to a crowd of supporters and volunteers about healthcare, college debt, and global warming. (Max Goldberg/Wikimedia Commons)
This year’s Iowa Caucus made history as the closest race ever.
Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders ended the night of February 1 with a razor thin difference between the two. Clinton edged out over Sanders by just .3 percent, with the two receiving 49.9 percent and 49.6 percent respectively. The Republican side was not nearly as dramatic, but still shocked many with its outcome. Many expected a landslide win by outspoken Republican, Donald Trump, but were surprised when the Texas senator, Ted Cruz, pulled out ahead of the rest with 27.7 percent of the vote. Trump trailed slightly far behind at 24.4 percent, followed closely by Rubio at 23.1 percent.
So why does any of this matter? The Caucus was not an election, it wasn’t even a primary, so why should anyone care? The Iowa Caucus has proven to be a great indicator of candidates success in the following election. A win in Iowa is a win in the first polling place, and winning there gives the impression that a candidate can win anywhere.
“Voters prefer to back a winner,” according to Huffington Post writer Ryan Grim “and candidates appear more attractive the more likely they are to win”.
President Obama won the Iowa Caucus in 2008, and many believe that this first win showed voters that it was possible for an African American candidate to seriously have a chance at winning the Presidency. Obama himself seemed to recognize the significance of the Iowa victory.
“Years from now, you’ll look back and you’ll say that this was the moment. This was the place where America remembered what it means to hope,” Obama said in his victory speech that night.
Bernie Sanders’ extremely close race at the Caucus has shown millions of Americans that he is Presidential material. Although Clinton did come out on top, the validity of that win has been called into question. Multiple ties between the two candidates were decided through an extremely peculiar method, flipping a coin. Games of chance have been included in the Democratic caucus rules “forever,” said Norm Sterzenbach, a former executive director of the state who oversaw the nominating contests in 2008 and 2012.
Clinton may have technically won, but the effects of the extremely close race will do more harm than good according to Forbes writer, John Zogby.
In Zogby’s live results of the Iowa Caucus he closes with, “Clinton won Iowa — but did she? Not so long ago she was leading with close to 60% of the support in polls while Sanders was barely in the double digits. She has been inevitable before and it didn’t work. I do understand that a win is a win is a win, but she has been damaged. This was squeak-by victory over a 74-year-old Democratic socialist”.
The Republican side of things may be more cut and dry than the Democrats but the outcome has still cause quite a stir. Cruz has come out on top and many think this is due to Trump’s behavior the night of the Caucus. While most candidates were cementing their stances on the many issues this country faces, Trump spent the majority of his time bragging about his victories in the polls. Although polls can provide some interesting insight into the stances some voters are taking, in essence they don’t really mean anything. This seems to be a rude awakening to Trump, as his usually arrogant demeanor has turned quite humble. After the results were posted Trump tweeted, “My experience in Iowa was a great one. I started out with all of the experts saying I couldn’t do well there and ended up in 2nd place. Nice”
New Hampshire is the next polling place in the line until the race comes to its first head this summer and each party picks its candidate to run for President in November. Sanders poses an advantage over Clinton in New Hampshire, whose polls open on February 9th, as he holds a very strong lead in the state. Although Cruz pulled ahead by a large margin in Iowa, the voters in New Hampshire are much more centrist so he faces some difficulty that was not present in the first polling place. We can predict all we want for the next poll, but as this first Caucus has shown, this race will be anything but predictable.
By Max Goldberg from USA (Bernie pre Caucus) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons