Ted Cruz walked into the lobby of the Des Moines Marriott Downtown late Sunday evening in a slow yet deliberate pace. His months’ long effort to engage Iowa caucus goers was coming to an end and Cruz, the freshman U.S. Senator of Texas, did not break stride as he passed a lobby packed with journalists and political operatives.
“I think Cruz has got this,” said Kyle Hackel, an analyst from the nonpartisan PolitiGuide.
Hackel was indeed profound as Cruz captured the most support among Republicans in Monday night’s caucus. Hackel and his business partner Julian Rudolph had been in Iowa for a week following the candidates and handing out copies of PolitiGuide, an informative book that explains the issues at hand from each party’s perspective.
Gay marriage certainly played a part in Iowa. In the run-up to the caucus, Cruz shared a stage in Iowa City with reality television actor Phil Robertson of the “Duck Dynasty” program. Robertson urged the crowd to back Cruz and used his microphone time to condemn gay people.
Calling gay marriage “evil” and “wicked” to wild cheers, Robertson went on to say it, “We have to run this bunch out of Washington, D.C. We have to rid the earth of them.”
Cruz ran all of the Republicans out of Iowa, capturing 28 percent support, eight delegates and forcing one-time front-runner Donald Trump to concede defeat.
In terms of money spent per vote though Trump was the clear winner spending only $300 per vote compared to Rubio who spent $600 per and Cruz spending $700 per.
“My experience in Iowa was a great one. I started out with all of the experts saying I couldn’t do well there and ended up in 2nd place. Nice,” Trump tweeted. Trump finished with 24 percent support and seven delegates.
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida placed third, garnering 23 percent support and collecting seven delegates. Matt Peterson, a Rubio supporter from Michigan canvassing the Iowa State Historical Building, said he was working for the Miami man because of his story of coming from a working class background.
“He knows what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck,” Peterson said.
Meanwhile, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee threw in the towel, failing to inspire voters, but leaving the race with fond memories of appearing on stage with embattled Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis.
“Obviously the voters are sick of me and I need to acknowledge that,” Huckabee said Monday.
On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont were virtually identical in the running, both candidates received the most support with former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley suspending his campaign after generating little interest.
The U.S. campaign heads to New Hampshire next with a primary election slated for Feb. 9 in the small New England state. Sanders and Trump held polling leads going in but at least one challenger is not giving up. Recent polls in NH have Trump up by as much as 24 points while polls show Sanders up as much as 33 points setting expectations high for both candidates.
“Show time is over,” said New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Sunday night at Wellman’s Pub in West Des Moines, Iowa. “It’s game time now. We are not electing an Entertainer-in-Chief, we are electing a Commander-in-Chief.”