Why Ted Cruz Still Has a Long Way to Go

February 2nd 2016

Lucy Tiven

Ted Cruz may have pulled off a victory in tonight's Iowa caucus, but history tells us that the Iowa result is often misleading.


In fact, the last two Republican winners in Iowa, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (2008) and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (2012), both failed to ultimately win the nomination.

Though Santorum narrowly won Iowa in 2012, he dropped out of the race in April shortly after he lost Wisconsin and Maryland to Mitt Romney, who eventually became the nominee before losing to President Obama. And despite a more substantial win in Iowa, Huckabee dropped out even earlier in the race, in March of 2008. (Sen. John McCain won the nomination and then lost to then-Sen. Barack Obama in the general election.)

Both the Huckabee and Santorum Iowa victories were attributed to evangelical voters, whom Cruz has also courted in the weeks leading up to tonight's caucus. The downside for Iowa winners is that the state's evangelical vote is not representative of coastal Republican voters or those in major U.S. cities.

While Cruz may gain momentum after Iowa, FiveThirtyEight currently gives Cruz a 13 percent chance of winning the upcoming New Hampshire primary and a 19 percent shot of winning South Carolina. Suffice to say, he has a long way to go.

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