Election 2016

Cruz Wins in Iowa, Rubio Surprises: Trump's Second-Place Finish a 'Big, Fat Beautiful Waste of Time'

Jeb Bush has little to show for his hugely expensive campaign.

Ted Cruz came out ahead of Donald Trump in the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucus Monday night, winning 28.9% of the caucus vote to Trump’s 25.2%. Marco Rubio finished a respectable third with 21.1%.

Ben Carson managed to get 9.3% of the vote from the Hawkeye state while the remaining candidates split the rest in insignificant totals. Mike Huckabee, who won the state in 2008, only managed 1.8% of the vote and immediately announced he was dropping out.

Trump gave an unexpectedly graceful concession speech, at one point even suggesting he would like to “buy a farm” in Iowa without apparent understanding of the double meaning of this expression. He had previously said that if he lost it would be a "big, fat, beautiful—and, by the way, a very expensive—waste of time."

Cruz began his victory speech by thanking God and quoting Bible scripture and emphasizing that this election would not be decided by "politicians in Washington" or the "establishment media." 

One-time frontrunner Jeb Bush received under 3% of the vote, a total of 5,165. His campaign and super PACs have spent over $14.9 million in Iowa, all coming from Bush's super PAC, amounting to almost $3,000 per vote.

Rubio greatly exceeded the expectations game and gave what amounted to a victory speech despite finishing third, describing himself as the probable nominee. According to most pundits, the big loser among Republicans was Donald Trump, who almost slipped to third as Rubio surged late in counting.

Trump’s biggest blind spot was whether he had the grassroots “ground game,” or whether he could parlay his big crowds into actual caucus-goers.

“I wondered if they would really turn out to vote and it turns out that they weren’t real, and reality started tonight,” Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler told MSNBC.

According to the Guardian, "by contrast, Cruz had a highly sophisticated ground game that had recruited caucus captains and volunteers across the state and made aggressive use of data capture on Facebook, using detailed psychological profiling techniques to sway voters." 

The GOP Iowa caucus beat all the previous turnout records by a large margin. Over 182,000 Iowans turned out to caucus for the Republicans, which is roughly 60,000 more than in 2012. 

 

Adam Johnson is a contributing writer for AlterNet. Follow him on Twitter at @adamjohnsonnyc

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