Iowa Caucus: Road to the White House Starts in Hawkeye State

The presidential nomination process officially got underway Monday night when Iowa held its first-in-the-nation caucuses in the 99 counties across the state.

Full coverage: Every angle on the races can be found at Decision 2016.


Iowa Ends But The Campaign is Just Beginning

The Iowa caucuses have been completed but it was a wild day in the first presidential contest of what promises to be a long and unpredictable presidential campaign for both the Republican and Democratic parties. Check out all our live blog coverage of the Iowa caucuses below.

For all the latest news and analysis, click here.

For the full Iowa results, click here.

From the Winner's Circle

While the Democratic race is still locked in a dead heat, there was one clear winner Monday night -- Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Here's Cruz from his victory speech:

Ted Cruz Celebrates Iowa Win on Caucus Night 2:07

No Winner Yet but Clinton and Sanders Rally Supporters

It's well past midnight on the East Coast and the Democratic race in Iowa remains razor thin. With what appears to be a virtual tie (NBC News has awarded each candidate 20 delegates), both candidates addressed their supporters late Monday.

Sanders Celebrates 'Virtual Tie' with Clinton 1:01

Clinton bewilders with quick victory claim 4:50

Though Results Still Unknown, Sanders Sounds Like Winner

The Democratic race in Iowa remains too close to call, but Bernie Sanders sounded like a victor when he addressed supporters late Monday night.

"We had no money, we had no name recognition, and we were taking on the most powerful political organization in America," Sanders said.

"While the results still aren't complete, it looks like we will have about half the delegates," he added.

Sanders' surge in Iowa has thrown an unexpected curve into the Democratic primary. Hillary Clinton, once thought to be a strong frontrunner, now is in danger of losing in Iowa and New Hampshire, where she is trailing the Vermont senator in the polls.

Trump and Rubio Speak to Supporters

The post-caucus speeches are rolling in, here are excerpts from the second and third place finishers, Donald Trump and Marco Rubio:

Trump: 'Iowa, we love you' 3:20

Rubio Tells Iowa His Doubters Have Been Proven Wrong 1:38

Iowa Entrance Poll Results: Trump Sales Pitch Came Up Short

Donald Trump burst on the campaign scene last summer touting his "tell it like it is" persona and making a splash with his proposal to build a large wall across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Although pre-election polls showed Trump surging in Iowa over the past few weeks, he ultimately fell short of victory. Part of the reason was that Trump's key selling points were not exactly what Iowa caucus-goers were looking for.

Trump: Maybe I'll Buy a Farm in Iowa After Caucus 0:51

According to the NBC News Entrance Poll, financial concerns were the top priority of voters who came out to caucus. Nearly one-in-three (32 percent) Iowa Republicans pointed to government spending as the most important issue facing the country, and 27 percent cited the economy and jobs. Another 25 percent named terrorism as the top issue, but just 13 percent chose immigration as their No. 1 concern.

The entrance poll also found that few voters felt Trump's in-your-face approach was the candidate quality they valued most. In fact, more than four-in-10 (42 percent) Iowa Republicans said they were looking for a candidate who shares their values when deciding who to support. Another 21 percent wanted a candidate who can bring about change, and an identical 21 percent put a priority on electability in the general election. Just 14 percent were looking mainly for a candidate who "tells it like it is."

Trump was able to win some key groups. He won 46 percent of those who want a president from outside the political establishment, 39 percent of those who made up their mind more than a month ago and 34 percent of political moderates. He also took 30 percent of those who were caucusing for the first time. The problem for Trump was that this group was not quite large enough to offset the former caucus-goers who also came out in large numbers to back Cruz.

Ted Cruz Celebrates Win with Victory Speech

A victorious Sen. Ted Cruz took the stage following his Iowa caucus win, thanking his family and supporters for putting in countless hours on the ground to help him clinch the top spot.

"Tonight thanks to the incredible hard work of everyone here, of courageous conservatives across this state, we together earn the votes of Iowans," he said.

Ted Cruz Celebrates Iowa Win on Caucus Night 2:07

NBC News announced that the Texas senator won 28 percent of the votes, ahead of Donald Trump and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

Cruz, who has solidified his supporters against the "Washington cartel," hinted that a Cruz presidency would put the rights that come "from our Creator" over those that "come from the Democratic Party, the Republican Party or even the Tea Party."

With eyes now on New Hampshire, Cruz reminded his audience that the strong and united conservative base behind him is exactly what Washington fears.

"You want to know what scares the Washinton cartel?" Cruz said before an audience member yelled, "You!"

"Actually not remotely, I don't scare them remotely," he said. "What scares them is you. What scares them is the old Reagan coalition is coming back together of conservatives!"

Iowa Entrance Poll Results: Democrats Divided on Most Important Issue

Entrance polls of Iowa caucus-goers show Democrats somewhat divided about what issue poses the greatest challenge to the nation. Overall, 33 percent consider the economy as the top national issue, but almost as many, 30 percent, said health care is the dominant issue.

Income inequality, a core theme of the Bernie Sanders campaign, is considered the most pressing national issue by 27 percent of Iowa Democrats. But for those under the age of 30—a key support group for Sanders—36 percent say the economy is the top issue, while 35 percent think the biggest problem is income inequality.

Among Iowa Democrats, only 6 percent think terrorism is the most important national issue, versus 25 percent of Republican caucus-goers who said terrorism is the top problem in the country.

Andrew Rafferty

Clinton Avoids Declaring Victory in Caucus Night Speech

Hillary Clinton was careful not to declare victory in her speech Monday night, instead saying she is "excited" about the forthcoming debate with Democratic rival Bernie Sanders.

"I am excited about really getting into a debate with Sen. Sanders about the best way forward to fight for us and America," Clinton said.

Clinton Thanks Iowa, Says She's Breathing 'Sigh of Relief' 2:07

Late Monday night the race between Sanders and Clinton remained too close to call.

"It is rare that we have the opportunity we have now. To have a real contest of ideas," Clinton said. "To really think hard about what the Democratic party stands for."

Carrie Dann

So, who fueled the top three GOP candidates?

Here's some quick number-crunching on the subgroups of the Republican electorate who supported each of the top three candidates, based on the latest entrance polls.

Winning subgroups for Cruz

Previous caucus attendees (won with 31% of the group )
Very conservative (43%)
Evangelicals (33%)
Most worried about terrorism (33%)
Prioritizes a candidate who "shares my values" (37%)
Winning subgroups for Trump
1st time caucus-goers (won with 31% of the group)
Most worried about immigration (45%)
Prioritizes candidate who "Tells it like it is" (67%)
Decided more than a month ago (40%)
Winning subgroups for Rubio
College grads (won with 27% of the group)
Most worried about jobs (30%)
Decided in the last few days (29%)
Prioritizes "someone who can win in November" (43%)

Iowa Entrance Poll Results: Rubio's Good Night

Even though he didn't win the night, Marco Rubio certainly set his campaign on a positive trajectory as the race heads to New Hampshire. The Florida senator was the clear favorite of caucus-goers who were most concerned about electability. He took 43 percent among voters who said winning the general election in November was their most important candidate quality.

He also won about four-in-10 of those caucus-goers who valued political experience over outsider status.

Rubio's performance tonight was better than nearly all the pre-election polls had predicted. The NBC News Entrance Poll found he had a slight edge among voters who only made up their minds in the last few days - garnering 29 percent of this group's support compared to 24 percent for Ted Cruz and 14 percent for Donald Trump.

There was no clear preference, though, among voters who generally see themselves as independents or Democrats rather than Republican partisans. Rubio and Trump each took 22 percent of this group's support while Cruz nearly matched them with 19 percent.

It is worth noting that these non-Republican voters comprised less than one-quarter of tonight's Iowa caucus electorate, but they will make up a much larger share of the vote in New Hampshire next week.

Iowa Entrance Poll Results: Why Clinton and Sanders Are So Close

The NBC News Entrance Poll shows age, issues and ideological differences strongly influenced which groups of Democrats supported Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in today's Iowa caucuses.

Clinton was the solid choice among 88% of Democrats who valued experience over other candidate qualities, and among 68% of those who want the next president to continue Obama's policies. Those who say health care is the most important issue facing the country also largely went for Clinton, as did those over the age of 65.

Clinton also did especially well with 59% of Democrats who picked health care as the top issue facing the country. Other voter groups who strongly supported Clinton today are married women and moderates.

Looking at Sanders' supporters, we see different segments of Democratic voters in Iowa. Young voters went for Sanders overwhelmingly, and he was supported by 83% of voters who value honesty and trustworthiness most in a candidate. Sanders won 61% of the support among those who think income inequality is the top issue facing the country, and 58% of those who identified as very liberal.

Sanders also received considerable support from first-time caucus-goers and those who say they want the next president to have more liberal policies than the Obama administration.

Andrew Rafferty

Trump Congratulates Cruz on Iowa Victory

After falling short to Ted Cruz in the Iowa caucuses on Monday, Donald Trump said he was "honored" by his finish and touted high poll numbers in New Hampshire.

"I'm just honored, I'm really honored and I want to congratulate Ted and I want to congratulate all of the incredible candidates," Trump said.

Trump had a slight lead over Cruz in polls released days before the caucuses. But Cruz earned the support of evangelical caucus goers and those who made their minds up late.

"We're leaving tonight and tomorrow afternoon we'll be in New Hampshire and that will be something special," Trump said.

"I think we're going to be proclaiming victory, I hope," he added.

Delegate Counts From Iowa

The presidential primaries are all about getting delegates and NBC News has allocated the following from Iowa Monday night:

On the Democratic side, of the 52 delegates available, NBC News allocates 20 to Hillary Clinton and and 20 to Bernie Sanders. On the Republican side, of the 30 delegates available the breakdown is: Ted Cruz 6, Marco Rubio 5, Donald Trump 5 and Ben Carson 1.

Andrew Rafferty

Huckabee Ends 2016 Run

Former Arkansas governor and 2008 Iowa caucus winner Mike Huckabee announced on Twitter he will suspend his presidential campaign after finishing near the bottom of the pack in the opening contest of the 2016 race on Monday.

Huckabee initially polled in the middle of a crowded Republican field in the Hawkeye State. But he was quickly overshadowed by political outsiders like Donald Trump and Ben Carson. Towards the end of his 2016 run he had been relegated to the undercard GOP debates.

His final campaign finance report revealed Huckabee had just $133,244 cash on hand.

Huckabee Suspends Campaign 1:01

Iowa Entrance Poll Results: How Ted Cruz Won

Ted Cruz eked out a win tonight on the back of a strong showing among traditional social conservative groups. According to the NBC Entrance Poll, Cruz garnered a significant amount of support from those who call themselves very conservative (43%), evangelicals (33%) and those who say they were specifically looking for a candidate who shares their values (37%).

In a sign that old-fashioned campaigning "trumped" big rallies, Cruz also won those voters who said they were contacted on behalf of a candidate.

Cruz also bested Donald Trump by capturing a significant number of those who made up their minds in the last week -- 27 percent compared to only 14 percent for Trump.

NBC News: Ted Cruz Projected Winner of Iowa Republican Caucus

NBC News projects that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz will win the Iowa Republican caucuses. The Democratic race remains too close to call.

Cruz bested Trump and Florida Senator Marco Rubio with the rest of the field trailing further behind.

For full results, click here.

NBC News Projects Ted Cruz as Winner of GOP Iowa Caucus 1:59

Martin O'Malley To Suspend Campaign

Former Democratic Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley will announce he is suspending his campaign at his post-Iowa caucus rally Monday night.

Iowa Entrance Poll Results: Angry Voters Want an Outsider

This election has been dominated by the angry voter, especially among Republicans. Anger with Washington in general has spread to discontent with their own party. That in turn has led voters to turn to candidates who have never held elected office. This contributed to the rise of not only Donald Trump, but also Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina at different points during this campaign cycle.

Iowa Republicans expressed their frustration with politics as they entered their local caucus sites. While "angry" voters are not in the majority, they form a fairly sizable proportion of today's electorate.

According to the NBC News Entrance Poll, four-in-10 (42%) Republican caucus-goers say they feel angry about the way the federal government is working, and another 49 percent are dissatisfied. Just 7 percent feel either satisfied or enthusiastic about Washington.

Given this dim view of national politics, many Iowa Republicans entered their local caucuses wanting to see an outsider in the White House next year. Nearly half (49%) said they would like the next president to be from outside the political establishment. This compares to 45 percent who said that the next president needs experience in politics.

Among Republican caucus-goers who express flat-out anger at Washington, fully 59 percent say they prefer a political outsider as the nation's 45th president.

And among all voters who say they want an outsider candidate, two-in-three actually supported one of the three candidates who never held political office. The remaining third actually settled on a current or former office holder as their pick for the nomination.

Iowa Entrance Poll Results: Evangelicals Split Support

According to the NBC News Entrance Poll, Ted Cruz has the advantage among evangelicals, garnering about one-third of this group's support. But Donald Trump and Marco Rubio also did well, each earning about one-fifth of evangelical support.

Cruz Touts Amount of Campaign Money in the Bank 0:39

Evangelicals, or born-again Christians, have historically made up a large voting bloc in Iowa. In 2012, evangelicals made up 57 percent of all Republican caucus attendees, according to entrance poll results. That number has increased up to 64 percent this year. All the Republican candidates have been hoping to appeal to this group.