Monday 1 February saw the first vote of the US Presidential candidacy campaign in Iowa, where US citizens voted for their preferred candidate for the Republican and Democratic parties. These votes decide who will represent their party in the race to become President of the United States.
The Republican Vote
In the lead up to this first round, controversy has surrounded the campaign of some candidates, particularly on the Republican side. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are the front-runners of the party, made clear from the response both men received along their campaign trail.
Trump is a businessman, property tycoon and the host of the US Apprentice; he has been the most controversial candidate. Trump has frequently been criticised for his views regarding Mexican illegal immigration. The statement released in his 16 June campaign announcement about the quality of people being sent to America from the Mexican government caused outrage: ‘They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people’. One of his main policies is to build a wall across the Mexican border, which will be paid for by the Mexican government. Trump has divided the American population; certain groups believe his speeches promote hate while others avidly support his policies.
Trump’s Republican competitor, Ted Cruz, was made US senator for Texas in 2013. He was a partner at a successful Texan law firm, and famously fought to defund Obamacare during budget negotiations in the autumn of 2013. Cruz’s main policies for the campaign are opposing ethanol subsidies through the renewable fuel standard and allowing each state to have its own definition of marriage.
Previous campaign polling suggested Iowa would be a victory for Trump, however the Republican voters favoured Cruz’s anti-establishment conservatism; allowing Cruz 27.6% of the votes and beating Trump’s 24.3%. Trump’s speech to his supporters addressed how ‘honoured’ he was to have come second and went on to congratulate Cruz and the efforts of the other Republican candidates before stating: ‘We will go on to get the Republican nomination and we will go on to easily beat Hillary or Bernie or whoever the hell they throw up there’. In his victory speech held in Des Moines, Iowa, Cruz thanked his voters: ‘God bless the great state of Iowa … To God be the glory’.
The Democratic Vote
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are the two frontrunners for the Democrats. The Iowa caucus saw Clinton clinch a win by 0.3% over Sanders. For Clinton this victory is huge, and brings her one step closer to being the first female President of the United States. She was beaten in the 2008 Presidential Election by Barack Obama, but served as his Secretary of State for four years. Her husband, Bill Clinton, was the 42nd President of the United States, in office from 1993 until 2001. Her main policies are to ‘take back the Second Amendment from the extremists’, to cut taxes for the middle class and raise the minimum wage. It was an important win for Clinton, as she told the crowd of over 700 supporters:. ‘Wow, what a night, an unbelievable night. Now, as I stand here tonight breathing a sigh of relief – thank you’.
Bernie Sanders has been attracting huge crowds across the US over the course of his campaign trail, and he gained 84% of votes from under 30s in Iowa. Sanders has been a US senator for Vermont since 2007. He has been the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and chaired the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee for two years. He describes himself as a democratic socialist, and is the most liberal candidate in the 2016 race, his main policies include: making college free for everyone by taxing financial transactions, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and bridging the pay gap between men and women. Despite Sanders’ loss in Iowa, it is still a moral victory for him as the media and Democratic leaders wrote him off. As he addressed his supporters he stated that, ‘The people of Iowa have sent a very profound message to the political establishment, the economic establishment, and by the way to the media establishment’.
All the candidates head off next to New Hampshire for the second round of voting, which begins on 9 February. With things so tight between the Democrats, and the Republican fight so contentious, the New Hampshire caucus could throw up some interesting results. To follow the next round live, go to The Guardian’s website where updates are frequently posted with the latest news from the campaign trails.