(CNN)One thing is clear after Monday night’s Iowa caucuses: there’s a long, volatile election season ahead before two deeply fractured parties can unite behind a nominee.
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are leaving the Hawkeye State in a virtual tie — a vote that underscores the Democratic party’s debate over whether it should solidify behind President Barack Obama’s legacy or move forward with more radical health care and economic reforms.
Republican Ted Cruz bested Donald Trump, raising questions about the billionaire’s reliance on his celebrity instead of traditional political organization. And Marco Rubio’s stronger-than-expected showing could mark him as the establishment’s best hope against a grassroots revolt in next week’s New Hampshire primary and beyond.
Cruz’s victory sets him up as a formidable force in delegate-rich, Southern states to come and offers movement conservatives hope that one of their own can become the Republican nominee for the first time since Ronald Reagan.
Claiming victory, Cruz fired immediate shots at both Trump and the party elites he has so infuriated by waging an anti-establishment crusade that has nevertheless endeared him to the GOP’s rank and file.
“Iowa has sent notice that the Republican nominee and the next President of the United States will not be chosen by the media, will not be chosen by the Washington establishment,” Cruz said.
With about 99% of the GOP vote in, Cruz was ahead of Trump 28% to 24%. Rubio was at 23%.