GOP candidate Ted Cruz beat out his closest rival Donald Trump by 3 points in Iowa on Monday. On the Democratic side, the race was murkier. Hillary Clinton won by just a handful of votes over Bernie Sanders. Meanwhile Sanders is hoping to turn his Iowa momentum into a New Hampshire victory next week. “New Hampshire is a ‘must win’ state for Sanders and Trump,” said NBC News political director Chuck Todd.
Results in both races were surprising. Trump was ahead of Cruz in the Iowa Caucus entrance poll, conducted a week before the vote, 30% to 28%. Trump said he ended up an “easy second” in the race. However, Marco Rubio shattered expectations, and emerged in third place—just one percentage point behind Trump, 23% to 24%.
Equally unexpected was the dead heat contest between Clinton and Sanders. Each candidate got 50% of the votes, with only a .02% difference.
“It looks like we are in a virtual tie,” Sanders told supporters before Clinton was declared the winner. He raised over a million dollars after his speech Tuesday night. It was the closest race for Democrats in Iowa Caucus history—too close, pundits say, for Sanders to overlook. A campaign aide said the Vermont Congressman has not ruled out contesting the count.
Starting out 40 points ahead of Sanders, and ending up with a razor-thin victory, Clinton is the Democrat against the ropes. Why? A major problem is her lack of support by young voters. Polls show Sanders leads this group 84% to 14%. When Bill Clinton was asked about the large discrepancy, he replied, “Promises of free college. End of story.” More than 69 percent of those over the age of 65 support Clinton.
Meanwhile, Sanders has a 23 point lead going into next week’s New Hampshire contest. Trump leads Cruz by double digits. According to a political pundit, “Anything can happen. New Hampshire voters really make up their mind on that final weekend.”