Ag Policy Blog

Cruz Wins Iowa GOP Caucus

By Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor

GLENWOOD, Iowa (DTN) -- Despite an aggressive campaign against Texas Sen. Ted Cruz by Iowa ethanol supporters, Cruz still generated strong support in rural Iowa counties as he won the Iowa Republican caucus Monday night.

In the GOP race, Cruz won 28% while billionaire Donald Trump carried 24% and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio carried 23% of the vote in unofficial results.

On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held a narrow lead going late into the evening, carrying 49.9% of the Democratic delegates to more than 49.4% of the delegates for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Those numbers were with 86% of the precincts reporting.

Cruz, 45, aggressively campaigned across Iowa, hitting all 99 counties at least once. He sought to tap into Iowa's strong social conservative base, but was criticized heavily by the Iowa biofuels industry because Cruz did not support the Renewable Fuels Standard. A group called America's Renewable Future, led by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad's son, stalked the Cruz campaign and challenged his stance. Just two weeks ago, Gov. Branstad also said a Cruz win would hurt Iowa.

Cruz is an unabashed opponent of federal spending programs and subsidies. He drew criticism for switching a vote to support protecting crop-insurance subsidies after earlier supporting cuts to the program.

Despite the attacks, Cruz defeated Trump, the largest personality in the race and the candidate that led in most GOP polls in Iowa. With 97% of the record vote tallied, Cruz carried nearly half of Iowa's counties. Cruz split much of the rural vote with Trump, but also defeated Trump in some of the largest population counties in the state such as Polk County (Des Moines) and Linn County (Cedar Rapids).

They left the rest of the GOP field in the dust. Ben Carson polled at 10% for the night. The results will likely cull the GOP field that included 11 total candidates going into the night. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee announced he would suspend his campaign after a poor showing.

In the tight Democratic race, Sanders still declared a victory by making it clear that he has been able to nearly match Clinton in a state where few people knew anything about Sanders just a year ago. Clinton, 68, won carrying some of the biggest counties in the state, such as Polk County where Clinton won roughly 8% more delegates than the 74-year-old Sanders.

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley failed to carry a county in the Democratic caucus. Given the disappointing showing, O'Malley announced late Monday he was suspending his campaign.

A big winner in the GOP field was Rubio, a 44-year-old first-term senator from Florida who rose above a crowded field. Rubio hit 23% of the vote and carried a handful of counties in Iowa. Rubio won the college towns, carrying Story County where Iowa State University is located, and Johnson County where the University of Iowa is based.

Yet other GOP candidates who were once considered potential frontrunners such as Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (4.4%) and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (2.7%) were not able to generate grassroots support in Iowa.

The New Hampshire primary is the next event on the presidential calendar. It will be held Feb. 9. Following that will be the South Carolina primary and Nevada caucuses, but the big presidential showdown will be March 1 when 12 states from across the country will hold primaries or caucuses. A slugfest for the party nominees could drag on until the primaries are scheduled to end June 7.

Iowa is considered a "purple" state, in that its allegiance in the general elections often changes. Iowans supported President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, but also supported former President George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004. The state's partisan split is somewhat regional as eastern Iowa leans Democratic while western Iowa is more heavily Republican.

Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com.

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN.

Comments

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bianca mason 3/13/2016 | 12:30 AM CST
I think alot of people are voting for Trump because of the success he already has attained as an entrepreneur. I haven't heard him talk about facts or political views. Mostly trash talking the competition. Hilary better be on her p's and q's or Trump will win. I think that Hilary is the best candidate to compete with Donald Trump. I think this race is based more on popularity and not the facts. <a href="http://www.goppolls.net/">www.goppolls.net</a>
bianca mason 3/13/2016 | 12:28 AM CST
I think alot of people are voting for Trump because of the success he already has attained as an entrepreneur. I haven't heard him talk about facts or political views. Mostly trash talking the competition. Hilary better be on her p's and q's or Trump will win. I think that Hilary is the best candidate to compete with Donald Trump. I think this race is based more on popularity and not the facts. <a href="http://www.goppolls.net/">www.goppolls.net</a>
Don Thompson 2/2/2016 | 2:31 PM CST
I guess I missed the Iowa message. It appears the R party split their vote of unhappy Iowans among 4 or 5 mostly establishment types with a penchant for saying some outrageous things to appease the "scared and mad" crowd. Meanwhile the D party split the vote among establishment candidates with at least one of them catering to the " mad and scared" constituents from the left leaning view. While testifying to be against the establishment, otherwise known as the folks they voted into office previously, now the mantra is that a message was sent from Iowa because they split the vote essentially seven ways for mostly folks still in the establishment. Sounds like a confused message from a group that may be indeed sacred and mad but mostly confused.
Jay Mcginnis 2/2/2016 | 9:32 AM CST
Looks like Iowans want some "Green Eggs and Ham"? I saw Cruz speak at Princeton a couple years ago, he will be whatever you want him to be, sort of a guy that will tell you whatever you want,,, definition of a demigod. If you're tired of this government do what the bumper stickers said during Vietnam,,, America Love It or Leave It!!!
Mike Estadt 2/2/2016 | 8:31 AM CST
The message sent by Iowans last night......We are tired of the Washington establishment.
Don Thompson 2/2/2016 | 8:27 AM CST
What is a "true conservative" from an Iowan's view?
Gary Leghton 2/2/2016 | 6:54 AM CST
Although Brandstad led a Progressive, deceptive campaign to oust Cruz, The People have spoken to oust any deceptive,non-true Conservative . Cruz supports ethanol just doesn't support unnecessary Gov subsidies that add to the national debt. Let the free markets work and get off of the tracks, let the train come through!