Election 2020

Cruz Tops Trump; Rubio Nearly Overtakes The Donald

Republican presidential candidates take the stage during the CNBC Republican presidential debate at the University of Colorado on Oct. 28, 2015, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

With record-high turnout in the Iowa caucus, the top three Republicans were separated from each other by just a few points.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) came in first with 28 percent, followed by Donald Trump at 24 percent. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) surged past his polling expectations to take 23 percent with 99 percent of precincts reporting.

“So this is the moment they told us this would never happen,” Rubio told supporters in Des Moines. “…They told me I had no chance because my hair wasn’t gray enough and my boots were too high.”

“I’m just really honored,” Trump said at his Iowa headquarters, congratulating the others in the race. “We’re leaving tonight and tomorrow afternoon we’ll be in New Hampshire… I think we’re going to be proclaiming victory, I hope.”

Cruz was the last GOP candidate to take the stage as his victory really, accompanied by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) and his father, Rafael Cruz.

“Iowa has sent notice that the Republican nominee and the next president of the United States will not be chosen by the media,” Cruz said.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton was locked in a tight race with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) at 49.8-49.6 percent with 95 percent reporting.

Clinton emerged at 10:30 p.m. Central time to declare that it was “time for a real contest of ideas.”

“I am a progressive who gets things done for people,” she said with President Clinton and Chelsea Clinton at her side. “We may have differences of opinion .. but I believe we have a very clear idea that the Democratic Party and this campaign stands for what’s best in America.”

Sanders spoke at his headquarters after Clinton, noting that he jumped into the race “taking on the most powerful political organization in the United States of America.”

“While the results are still not complete it looks like we’ll have about half of the Iowa delegates,” Sanders said, stressing that his strong showing constitutes a “profound message” to the political establishment” and oh, by the way, the media establishment.”

“It is just too late for establishment politics and establishment economics,” he said. “…What Iowa has begun tonight is a political revolution.”

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley decided to suspend his presidential campaign as he got shut out in the caucuses.

Iowa is not a winner-take-all state. Delegates are apportioned, with slightly different rules for divvying delegates in each party.

Ben Carson came in fourth with 9 percent. That means roughly 3 delegates for the doctor, 7 delegates each for Trump and Rubio, and 8 delegates for Cruz.

Carson’s campaign issued an awkward statement in the middle of vote tallying, stressing that the doctor “is not suspending his presidential campaign, which is stronger than ever.”

“After spending 18 consecutive days on the campaign trail, Dr. Carson needs to go home and get a fresh set of clothes. He will be departing Des Moines later tonight to avoid the snow storm and will be back on the trail Wednesday,” said Carson’s communications director, Larry Ross, adding they look forward “to meaningful debates in New Hampshire and South Carolina.”

The governors in the primary race, who were already looking toward New Hampshire, had low finishes — behind Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who got 4.5 percent.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who won Iowa eight years ago, suspended his campaign after tonight’s showing.

“I am officially suspending my campaign,” Huckabee tweeted. “Thank you for all your loyal support.”

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus called the evening “nothing short of an unmitigated disaster for Hillary Clinton and the Democrat Party.”

“The Democrat establishment wanted a coronation for Clinton but is now facing the very real prospect that a self-proclaimed socialist could be their party’s nominee,” Priebus said. “Tonight was a clear statement that Democrat primary voters find Clinton’s hypocrisy and scandals so unpalatable that they are willing to vote for an unelectable 74 year-old socialist from Vermont.”

“With damaging new developments breaking in her email scandal and an all-but-certain loss next week in New Hampshire, the Clinton campaign drastically underperformed when they desperately needed to over deliver.”

This story was updated at 12:30 a.m. EST