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Cruz wins Iowa, Clinton declares victory

Caucuses move some candidates ahead, eliminate others

By Daniel Fields, Drew Butler
On February 11, 2016

The Iowa caucuses are over and along with them, countless TV, radio and Internet ads – not to return again to Iowa until the nominees for each party have been selected. However, after Monday’s caucuses, voters are not much closer to knowing who the nominees will be, with no one candidate dominating the field on either side. Hillary Clinton edged out a narrow margin of victory of .3% over Democratic rival Bernie Sanders, and with 49 states still to go – the next being New Hampshire – all that seems to be certain as of now is that voters are in for a tight race on both sides according to “The Atlantic” website.

On the Republican side of things, “The Atlantic” stated that Ted Cruz upset favorite Donald Trump, while Marco Rubio, following a recent surge in the polls, finished at a close third. While Cruz’s margin of victory was significantly higher than that of Clinton’s, it still appears to be a close race going forward for the GOP as well. While all three of the Republican front-runners are potentially poised for victory, there is still a plethora of other dark horse candidates on the Republican side, such as Chris Christie and John Kasich, who, although polling in the single digits, could still surge, according to “The Atlantic”.

On the Democratic side, the field has been narrowed down to two candidates, following Martin O’Malley’s decision to suspend his campaign, as a result of his poor performance in the Iowa caucuses.The Republican field has also been narrowed, with Republican candidate Rand Paul dropping out of the race Wednesday morning, according to Kirkwood Community College student Matt McDonald, media communications. However, despite close races on both sides, Democrats and Republicans select their candidates a little bit differently, according to the “Huffington Post”. Republicans simply cast ballots in their primaries, stated McDonald, while the Democratic process is a little more complicated.

Graphic Contributed

According to James Pierce, Liberal Arts, who is the Democratic Caucus Chair for his precinct and also the Bernie Sanders Precinct Captain, one of his jobs in leading the caucus is to direct voters into candidate preference groups, for which 30 minutes is allotted. Afterward, his job is to conduct a head count.If the group is not viable – i.e. does not make up 15 percent of caucus-goers in the precinct – then in the period of realignment that follows, supporters for the nonviable candidate or candidates must join another viable candidate’s preference group.This means that candidates who otherwise would receive a small percentage of the vote if they were Republicans may receive none, Pierce added. During this process, caucus-goers can attempt to sway support of other candidates in an attempt to get them to join their side, Pierce said. 

Following the realignment period, the Caucus Chair allots the number of delegates each precinct is assigned to the candidate or candidates, based off the percentage of caucus goers supporting him or her, according to Pierce. Each group then elects delegates to caucus for their candidate at the county convention, proportional to the number they have been allotted, he added.Pierce called this process, disliked by some, incredibly democratic – and very close to grass roots democracy. He also stated that caucus-goers can make proposals to the Democratic Party – all of which will be looked at.

If someone makes a proposal that they want free hot dogs, that will get sent in, Pierce added. At the end of the night, he said, caucus-goers can opt to stay to elect delegates to the party platform committee and the committee on committees. Pierce added that a group of international students attended his precinct’s caucus, which was held in Iowa Hall, rooms A and B. Because Iowa holds the first caucus in the nation, the amount of attention paid to the state is unique during the primary season. This provides students with a unique opportunity to get out and meet the candidates in person, to which Pierce added that, although he is a Democrat, he got to talk to Republican candidate Chris Christie. McDonald added that at the end of the night, Ted Cruz showed up at his precinct unexpectedly, giving caucus voters the chance to meet with the Republican front-runner. 

However, this has also raised some controversy, as Iowa may not be representative of the nation as a whole, despite its influence. McDonald stated that libertarian-leaning Republicans like Paul may not fare as well in a state like Iowa, which tends to favor Evangelical conservatives in the caucuses. He added that Mike Huckabee, who won the Iowa caucus in 2008, has also decided to drop out of the race.As the candidates move on to New Hampshire, the Democratic party is down to Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

Clinton was able to pull away from Iowa with a .3% lead, which is the closest a caucus has ever been. With polls showing Bernie Sanders with a strong lead in New Hampshire, he is predicted to win by about 18 points, putting Sanders ahead of Clinton after the first two caucuses. Trump has a strong lead over the top Republican candidates, Cruz and Rubio, in the New Hampshire caucus polls. Rubio was able to catch more voters than polls expected him to, with which he is expected to be able to keep with the rest of the leading Republican front-runners.The next GOP debate will be held Feb. 6. in Manchester. The Democratic debate will be held on Feb. 4, in Durham between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. 

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