Iowa caucus results: Donald Trump loses to Ted Cruz

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HUBBARD, IA - JANUARY 30: Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks at a campaign event at South Hardin Middle School on January 30, 2016 in Hubbard, Iowa. The Democratic and Republican Iowa Caucuses, the first step in nominating a presidential candidate from each party, will take place on February 1. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Ted Cruz

(Feb. 1, 2016) –Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has won the Iowa Republican caucuses, according to a CNN projection, a huge victory for him and a bitter defeat for Donald Trump in the country’s first presidential contest.

See the Iowa caucus results here.

The victory for Cruz is the first time that the conventional laws of politics have applied to Trump, a billionaire businessman who has built his campaign around the perception that he’s a winner who can bring his unique skills to the White House.

But Trump’s big personality, social media presence and large rallies failed to overcome Cruz’s more traditional approach to Iowa’s retail politics. Cruz spent months touring the state and reaching out to evangelical voters. The win sets him up as a formidable contender in the delegate-rich, Southern states that crowd the GOP calendar in the coming weeks and offers movement conservatives hope that one of their own can become the nominee for the first time since Ronald Reagan.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is holding the narrowest of leads over insurgent candidate Bernie Sanders.

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley plans to suspend his campaign, campaign sources told CNN, after not registering in the results.

Cruz’s win suggests that the Texas senator’s organization, built up over months, could prevail over Trump’s more unorthodox campaign based on the power of his personality and celebrity.

Trump went into Monday night with polls suggesting that he stood on the verge of a potentially stunning victory that would shake that Republican Party establishment. But Iowa caucuses are notoriously hard to predict and Cruz banked on a strong turnout from evangelical voters to build a classic Iowa winning coalition.

Visiting caucuses

Several candidates visited caucus sites on Monday evening. Trump mingled with voters at one West Des Moines location with his wife, Melania, and did some last minute campaigning.

“We are going to strengthen our borders, we are going to build a wall. We are going to bring our country back,” Trump said, stirring cheers from some in the audience.

Long-shot candidate Carly Fiorina appeared at the back of the room at the same caucus site and waved to those inside. Cruz was also expected to head to a caucus location.

Several hundred thousand Iowans in 1,681 precincts are expected to venture out with scattered snow showers in the forecast to exercise their cherished right to cast the first votes in the race that will determine the 45th President of the United States.

The Iowa caucuses have huge symbolic power, and while they don’t always predict who will be sworn in as the next president, they can offer a crucial boost to candidates who do well. They also spell doom for those who barely register and then do badly in the New Hampshire primary.

Earlier on Monday, Cruz, Trump’s main GOP rival heading into tonight, said he’s feeling “at peace” about the caucuses.

“I’m feeling good,” he said on Glenn Beck’s radio program. “I’m feeling at peace, and I’m feeling inspired.”

If Trump emerges on top in Iowa, Cruz said he would “happily congratulate him.”

Even before the caucuses began, Carson’s campaign said he wouldn’t go directly to New Hampshire or South Carolina — the site of the next primary contests. Instead, the retired neurosurgeon, who was briefly the Iowa front-runner last fall, will go to Florida to rest and see family.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is also skipping New Hampshire. He will go straight to South Carolina, which holds its Republican presidential primary on February 20.

Nervous night

Democrats are also in a nail-biter race.

Clinton expressed confidence about her prospects earlier Monday and reiterated her argument that Sanders won’t be able to deliver on some of his ambitions policy proposals.

“I am a progressive who wants to make progress and actually produce real results in people’s lives. That’s what I’m offering,” she said on CNN’s “New Day.” “I’m not overpromising.”

The former secretary of state, and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, eased their nerves ahead of the caucuses with a walk around Gray’s Lake in Des Moines, leaving staffers behind.

On the eve of the caucuses, the race to win Iowa turned more sharply combative as candidates desperate for an edge dashed through a frenzied final day of campaigning.

Trump branded Cruz a “liar” and made a play for the Texas senator’s evangelical power base. Cruz questioned Trump’s conservative authenticity on abortion and religious liberty and appeared alongside Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson, who branded same-sex marriage “wicked” and “evil.”

Sanders complained that he could not keep up with distortions of his record made by the Clinton camp. And a former aide to President Barack Obama took to Twitter to accuse the Vermont senator of repudiating their old boss’ record.

Clinton is positioning herself as the most qualified commander in chief and the best person to save Obama’s legacy. But Sanders is vowing to stage a “revolution” that will overturn a corrupt political structure bankrolled by a busted campaign finance system that he says is soft on Wall Street and favors the wealthy.

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