Powered by enormous support from very conservative voters, Ted Cruz surged past expectations to capture a victory in the Iowa caucuses on Monday night.Yes, Rubio did do extremely well, and sucked the air out of Trump's momentum.
Cruz earned the support of 4 in 10 “very conservative” voters in the state, a group which made up 40 percent of the electorate according to preliminary entrance poll data. Cruz was also backed by 1 out of every 3 evangelical voters -- an important victory in a group that was nearly two-thirds of the electorate.
Donald Trump may have been hampered by two unexpected factors: Weaker than expected performance among new voters and a late surge by Marco Rubio. In the last Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll in Iowa, Trump led Cruz among first-time caucus-goers by 16 points. On Monday night, Trump’s margin among this group was closer to half that.
Rubio earned about as much support from new voters as did Cruz. and was the preferred candidate of about 3 in 10 Iowa Republicans who made up their minds in the last week.
TRUMP FADES WHILE RUBIO CLOSES STRONG
Nearly half of Republican caucus-goers report making their final decision in the week before the caucuses, and the entrance poll shows Rubio performed best among this group. Nearly 3 in 10 of final-week deciders supported Rubio; he garnered about as much support among those deciding in January, but only about 1 in 10 of those who decided earlier than that backed Rubio.
Equally stark was Trump’s weakness among late-deciding voters. Just 14 percent of Republicans who decided in the final week supported Trump, compared with 23 percent of those who decided earlier in January and 40 percent who made their decision in December or earlier.
LARGE EVANGELICAL TURNOUT
Cruz leads among evangelical Christians, who made up over 6 in 10 Republican caucus-goers, their largest share of the vote in recent cycles. Cruz garnered about one-third of the evangelical vote, compared with just over 2 in 10 each for Rubio and Trump. Trump’s margin was similar among non-evangelical Republicans, though they made up fewer than 4 in 10 caucus-goers, lower than 2012 or 2008...
But the night really does belong to Ted Cruz. It's impressive, especially considering how he's been taking it from all sides all week, and then proved 'em all wrong.
Donald Trump's a big loser, but he's far from out. This is fantastic because it makes New Hampshire a week from tomorrow a real decision-making and game-changing contest.
PREVIOUSLY: "Ted Cruz Beats Donald Trump in Iowa's GOP Caucuses."