Political season heats up as primary results narrow the field

Nearly a year after the first campaign for president was launched, the presidential primary season is finally under way. When the first votes were cast in Iowa, not many could have predicted the outcome of the caucus. 

In the weeks leading up to the Iowa caucus, the big question was whether non-establishment candidates Donald J. Trump and Bernie Sanders could succeed in rallying their supporters to come out and vote. As the results started to come in Monday night, it was clear that both had failed to hit their marks.

In the Republican matchup, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas pulled ahead of the eccentric businessman Trump to take a much needed victory with 28 percent of the vote to Trump’s 24 percent. 

Following close behind Trump with 23 percent was Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, followed by neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, among others.

While many were surprised that Trump did not do as well as the polls had suggested he would, the big surprise of the night was how well Rubio did. He had been polling around 15 percent, but jumped ahead in the actual vote to do better than most expected.

“I would have pegged him fourth or fifth,” said Dr. Nicole Shoaf, assistant professor of political science at Missouri Southern. “I think I was surprised that he hit third, but the fact that he did better than, you know, Jeb Bush or Carly Fiorina wasn’t much of a surprise.”

In one of the closest primary races in recent history, voters in the Democrat Party narrowly gave Hillary Clinton the win with 49.9 percent to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 49.6 percent.

“The closeness of the Democratic turnout surprised me,” Shoaf said. “The fact that Clinton and Sanders ended up with a margin of less than 1 percent between them. I think everyone knew that it was going to be close, but it was one of the closest results in history.”

The only other Democratic candidate, Martin O’Malley, dropped out of the race after a poor showing of less than 1 percent of the vote.

Candidates took their Iowa momentum to New Hampshire, where Trump and Sanders placed first in their parties. 

Next is South Carolina on Feb. 20.  Missouri will hold its presidential primary on March 15.

While some Missourians are still deciding who to vote for, one Southern student knows who he will choose come March 15.

“It may surprise a few, may not surprise others, but I feel like I will be supporting Donald J. Trump,” said Kodie Schimtt, a sophomore criminal justice major.

“I feel like he’s a leader with a lot of fire underneath him,” Schmitt said. “I feel like his words are definitely sincere, and I feel like him taking care of the vets and the military and remembering the little man is the strong point that Trump has.”