Cruz Tops Trump in Iowa With Boost From “Religious Conservatives”

Ted Cruz speaking in Des Moines, Iowa on October 31, 2015.
Ted Cruz speaking in Des Moines, Iowa on October 31, 2015. (photo: Photo by Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Tonight, amid record turnouts for the 2016 Iowa caucuses, Texas Senator Ted Cruz scored his first victory in the hard-fought race to secure the Republican Party's nomination for president. And with this closely watched accomplishment, Cruz also demonstrated something of even greater importance—the Donald Trump juggernaut must confront two rivals that are far more accomplished and competitive than previously thought.

The Washington Post confirmed Cruz's triumph, with 

 99% of the precincts reporting, Cruz was besting Trump by more than 5,100 votes, with fellow senator Marco Rubio of Florida a close third. Cruz appeared to capitalize on deep support from religious and social conservatives and showed that old-fashioned retail politicking could overcome Trump’s massive political rallies in the Hawkeye state.

“Congratulations, Ted Cruz, You Just Won More Votes in a GOP Caucus Than Anyone... Ever!” read a National Review headline making the upset.

The New York Times also reported that Cruz drew strong support from “white evangelical voters, conservatives and those who were seeking a candidate who shares their values.” White evangelicals make up an estimated 60% of voters in Iowa's Republican caucus.

Trump “did well among first-time caucus-goers and those who want the next president to be from outside the political establishment and bring change.”

Marco Rubio attracted voters “who said the economy was the most important issue and those who thought it was most important to have a candidate who could win in November.”

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton squeaked through with a slight lead in a tight race that the Washington Post described as “essentially a tie.” As expected, the Post reported that Sanders' supporters were overwhelmingly younger and “more liberal” than Democrats who backed Clinton. 

Clinton's supporters, reported The Times, skewed much older—“about 7 in 10 of those over 65 [and] wealthier (only 4 in 10 of those making more than $100,000 a year backed Sanders).”

Sanders voters valued “honesty and empathy. Clinton voters wanted experience and the ability to win in November.”

Though Clinton expressed “relief” at her narrow victory, she now confronts the problem of overcoming Sander's significant lead in the New Hampshire primary.

“As I stand here tonight, breathing a big sigh of relief—thank you, Iowa—I want you to know I will keep doing what I have been doing my entire life,” said Clinton, flanked by her husband, Bill Clinton, and daughter, Chelsea. “I will keep standing for you. I will keep fighting for you.”

I haven't seen any data on how active Catholics voted in Iowa, and why specific candidates drew their support, but will post if I find anything interesting.