Monday night [February 1, 2016], the Iowa caucuses came to a close, kicking the presidential campaign into high gear while dramatically shifting it from a race that seemed to be in favor of certain candidates to one of great uncertainty.

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A quick recap will show you Senator Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton ended up in a tie. Ted Cruz surprisingly took the win for the Republican Party, while Donald Trump took defeat in second place. Senator Marco Rubio‘s stronger than expected finish in third overshadowed the fact he didn’t actually win.

Candidates Martin O’Malley and Mike Huckabee called it quits and suspended their campaigns after failing to capture the votes of Iowa, and Ben Carson accepted defeat the only way he knows how—by accusing the winner of foul play.


So, what does this all mean for the race moving forward?

  • The element of surprise isn’t dead: Probably the most unanticipated result of the evening, the tie between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders has cemented the reality Sanders is actual competition for the former Secretary of State.
  • Though Clinton was declared the official winner by five votes, Sander’s matching 50 percent has created problems for the Clinton campaign. With Sanders taking the lead in New Hampshire, it seems that things will only get more difficult.
  • Donald Trump might not actually be president: Despite the biggest fears of traditional voters, Donald Trump’s alleged sweep of the caucuses isn’t coming to fruition. A margin of 4 percent between the billionaire and caucus winner Ted Cruz, and mere difference of 1 percent with Marco Rubio means Trump’s going to have to put a good fight after all.
  • Marco Rubio’s strong finish puts him in a position to very well take the lead heading into the New Hampshire caucus. As Cruz and Trump have mirrored the desires of anti-establishment Republican voters, Rubio is shaping up to be the traditional candidate that takes them on.

With so much inter-party disputes, close calls and good ‘ol-fashioned American politics, the race to select each party’s presidential nominees might be more interesting the presidential election itself.

February 27 will mark the end of initial and critical voting in four states: Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. All voting will conclude on June 14 in the District of  Columbia. Until then, there’s a long way to go before the lines of this race truly gain some definition.