Iowa Caucus Kicks Off 2016 Election Season

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Credit John Taggart | EPA

Credit John Taggart | EPA

And so it begins. The 2016 election season kicked off last night with the Iowa caucus and there was no shortage of surprises.

On the Republican side, many expected to see mogul-turned-politican and frontrunner, Donald Trump, in the lead. But when votes started coming in, it was freshman Senator and Tea Party darling, Ted Cruz (R-TX), out in front, a lead he kept the entire night. Cruz hit the ground hard in Iowa, showing off a well-organized team and an even better funded super-PAC. He came out on top of Trump, 28 percent to 24 percent.

Credit ABCNews

Credit ABCNews

But the real surprise for the Republicans, was the strong showing of Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL). Although he finished third, Rubio was right behind Trump with 23 percent. Rubio represents a more mainstream Republican view. Many feel he has a better chance of appealing to undecided middle voters who believe Trump is too bombastic, Cruz too extremist, and are looking for a candidate more in the “establishment.”

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Credit Bernie Sanders

Credit Bernie Sanders

While some are claiming victory for Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side, it is still too close to call. With almost 100 percent of precincts reporting, it is a virtual tie between Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT). While #FeeltheBern had been gaining momentum in recent weeks, no one quite believed he’d catch Clinton, especially the frontrunner herself.  Clinton now has to content with a Sanders campaign that is heading heavily favored into the New Hampshire primary next week.

By the end of the evening, both former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (R) and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley (D) had suspended their presidential campaigns.  There were 30 delegates for the Republicans and 52 for the Democrats up for grabs at the Iowa Caucus.

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