Ted Cruz smashed through the Donald Trump wall with a decisive evangelical victory in Iowa as the race to become the Republican presidential nominee officially kicked off. Trump’s second place finish shows that his campaign is not as infallible as he would have his supporters or the media believe, and he will have to work extra hard to ensure a win in New Hampshire next week; currently the odds are well in his favor. Marco Rubio came third in Iowa and emerged as the clear leader of the establishment-type candidates, overcoming Kasich, Bush and Christie and gaining much needed momentum for New Hampshire and beyond. Despite Cruz’s obvious success, Rubio could pose a serious threat to the GOP front runner.
Confusion reigned on the Democratic side with Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in a dead heat until the very end, when Clinton was declared the winner by only two delegates. This is good for Clinton because it halts Sanders’ momentum and avoids comparisons with her 2008 loss to Obama. New Hampshire is definitely feeling the Bern but Sanders’ revolution will be facing an uphill battle beyond that state if he can’t find a way to connect with minority and women voters and place a sizable dent in Clinton’s following. To do this he needs to highlight their policy differences and exploit her trust issues. Meanwhile Martin O’Malley, who never overcame the single-digit polling barrier, finally declared himself defeated and suspended his campaign.
Does any of this really matter? Short answer: yes and no. Iowa’s vote is over-hyped and over-scrutinized but it can help to narrow a large field, draw campaign money and influence voters to a degree, especially last-minute undecideds. But Iowa is not representative of the American population and Iowa’s vote should not be taken as a firm indication of what the rest of the race will look like. In any case, the feeling in Iowa is probably one of abandonment right now as the circus moves on to New Hampshire, leaving a cloud of dust hanging over the corn fields.
Want to know if the odds are in your favor? Movie for your mood: The Hunger Games.