Iowa caucus upsets four hopefuls


Senator Ted Cruz celebrates with supporters of his presidential campaign in Des Moines, Iowa after winning the Iowa Republican caucus on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016.

Mitch Felan

Iowan voters set the stage for a long 2016 election this Monday with the Iowa caucus. The caucus marks the first votes for the election this year, in an event that some say will mark the way for the events of the entire election season. Naturally, with such a high-stakes event, there are victories and disappointments galore. While Hillary Clinton came out on top for Democratic nominees and Ted Cruz won on the GOP side, others were not so lucky. These were four of the biggest upsets for the Iowa caucus: 

1. Martin O’Malley suspends his campaign

Democratic hopeful and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley dropped out of the presidential race Monday night following a poor showing in the Iowa polls. The candidate announced he was dropping out in a speech during the caucus.

“I want to thank everyone who came out to our events and lent me their ear and everyone who went out to caucus for me tonight,” O’Malley told his supporters after the big announcement.

With 90 percent of precincts reporting, O’Malley only registered support from less than 1 percent of caucus voters. He finished at 0.6 percent when all precincts reported results.

O’Malley spent most of his candidacy lagging behind former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders. Even before O’Malley began his struggle for votes in Iowa, a poll from the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll found he would only garner 3 percent of the vote, as opposed to Clinton’s 45 percent and Sanders’ 42 percent. His departure from the Democratic ticket leaves the Democratic Party with only two presidential candidates: Sanders and Clinton.  

2. Mike Huckabee suspends his campaign

Martin O’Malley was not the only former governor to feel the sting of the Iowa caucus. Mike Huckabee, who won the Iowa caucus in 2008, could not repeat his past success Monday night. Huckabee fared slightly better than O’Malley, with 1.8 percent of caucus voters showing support for the candidate. Huckabee seemed to have a sense of humor about his departure, joking that he suspended his campaign due to “illness.”

“Voters are sick of me!” Huckabee quipped in his punchline.

Huckabee’s success on the campaign trail had been dwindling ever since he joined the presidential race. Huckabee started 2016 as a participant in the undercard debate of the first GOP of the year and was polling low in several Iowa caucus polls. The joint poll by the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll showed Huckabee in a five-way tie for dead last at 2 percent. Huckabee is the first and so far only GOP candidate to drop out of the race following the caucus.      

 3. Jim Gilmore gets 12 votes in the entire state of Iowa 

The Iowa caucus did not go well for former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore, who, according to polls received 0 percent of Iowans’ support. While closer evaluation of the numbers proves the amount is closer to 0.01 percent, that did not change the lack of support Gilmore’s campaign received in Iowa. According to data collected by Politico and USA Today, Gilmore received 12 votes from the entire state. 

Gilmore’s campaign started off on the wrong foot after he was ineligible to appear at the first few GOP presidential debates due to polling at less than 1 percent in the September 2015 CBS News/New York Times poll, as well as other polls. 

The candidate’s campaign has not released a statement on Gilmore’s poor showing in Iowa, nor has the former governor released a personal statement.

 4. Cruz becomes Iowa favorite, Donald Trump gets second place

Donald Trump’s reign as the undisputed GOP front-runner hit a roadblock Monday night when his archrival Ted Cruz won 27.6 percent of the caucus vote, becoming the GOP winner for the night. Trump came in second with 24.3 percent of the vote, with seven projected delegates as opposed to Cruz’s eight.

“We finished second, and I want to tell you something … I’m just honored. I’m really honored,” Trump told a group of supporters in a speech. “I want to congratulate Ted and I want to congratulate all of the incredible candidates, including Mike Huckabee, who’s become a really good friend of mine. Congratulations to everybody.”

Cruz, who was expected to be the runner-up in multiple polls, including the Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll, seems excited about his new-found success over Trump after months of being the runner-up.

“God bless the great state of Iowa!” he said in an impassioned speech after his victory was announced. “Tonight is a victory for the grassroots. Tonight is a victory for courageous conservatives across Iowa and all across this great nation.”

The remaining candidates will continue to duke it out for the New Hampshire primary taking place next week on Feb. 9.

Mitch Felan is a politics correspondent for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]