ALL OVER IOWA — Texas senator Ted Cruz was the overall winner of Republican caucus in Iowa, beating billionaire Donald Trump, who led opinion polls going into Monday's first-in-the-nation primary event.
The second-place finish is a major blow to the bombastic businessman. Record turnout at the polls was predicted to benefit Trump, who draws strong support from first-time voters. Instead, Cruz grabbed the first-place spot thanks to help from evangelicals.
Cruz took 27.7% of the vote. Trump garnered 24.3%. Florida senator Marco Rubio beat expectations with a strong third-place showing, with the so-called establishment candidate grabbing 23.1%.
The race for the GOP nomination is now a three-way contest between Cruz, Trump and Rubio. It's time for former Florida governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey governor Chris Christie and Kentucky senator Rand Paul to pack it in.
As for the Democrats, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton lost the expectations game to Vermont senator Bernie Sanders. The two candidates split votes and delegates nearly evenly, showing Clinton is weaker than many had suspected.
Can Rubio take on Cruz to become the GOP standard bearer? Can Sanders find support among non-white liberals? Stay tuned.