By Alison Martin
DES MOINES, Iowa – The caucuses ended. Results came in. Winners claimed victory. Now five other candidates must decide where to put their meager chips – or whether they should cash out.
Let’s take a look.
Former Florida governor Jeb Bush outspent everyone – Republican or Democrat – in this race. The campaign was supposed to soar, buoyed by more than $100 million in outside money from super PACs and other 501(c)(4) groups, plus another $31 million from direct donations subject to dollar limits.
All the money in the world, however, can’t buy Iowa. Bush finished a distant fifth with 2.8 percent of the vote – roughly one-tenth the total of GOP winner Ted Cruz. Jeb! earned just one delegate.
Bush was not here to cry about his loss. By the time Iowans were stepping up to caucus, he was laboring in New Hampshire, the next primary battleground, where voters go to the polls on Feb. 9.
Behind Bush, former Hewlett Packard executive Carly Fiorina finished the caucus with just 1.9 percent of the vote. Her campaign spent nearly $3.5 million in super PAC money and more than $11 million of its own funds.
Like Bush, Fiorina didn’t waste time on a losing battle. She touched down in New Hampshire on Monday night, skipping her own speech in Iowa to campaign in the Granite State.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich remains the outlier in the Republican race. The most experienced politician in the race, he did not spend a dime of super PAC cash, shelling out just over $7.5 million of donor money on the campaign.
For that, Kasich tied Fiorina with 1.9 percent. He, too, spent the day in New Hampshire.
Just behind Fiorina and Kasich came former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who won the Iowa caucus in 2008, supported by from evangelical Christians and home-schoolers. This time, he faded away, collecting barely 1.8 percent of the vote. He spent almost $4.5 million in super PAC money and another $4 million in direct contributions.
The race for Huckabee, however, ended Monday night. Shortly before Cruz declared victory, Huckabee suspended his campaign.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tied Huckabee at 1.8 percent, but he is most definitely not dropping out. Christie’s super PAC supporters spent a little over $14.3 million and his campaign spent $7.1 million campaigning thus far.
Although Christie held town hall meetings in Iowa, he chose to focus on New Hampshire, hoping to become an establishment alternative to Cruz and Donald Trump, the second-place finisher in Iowa. He will find, however, that Sen. Marco Rubio is laying claim to that role after his surprisingly strong third-place finish.
With just one percent of the vote, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum finished second to last. An Iowa caucus winner, in 2012, Santorum spent more than $1.2 of his campaign money and another $1.2 million of super PAC money.
Competing with two other candidates with ties to Christian conservatives may have been too much for the former Pennsylvania senator. Although he didn’t suspend his campaign, New Hampshire may be his last, slim chance.
All the way at the bottom – with zero percent of the vote – was former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore. If he hopes to catch up, Gilmore needs to make a jump to hyperspeed.
One caucus down. Forty-nine states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and a host of territories to go. For all the drama of Iowa, the race has barely begun.
Candidates who earned less than three percent of the vote started putting their chips on New Hampshire long before Cruz celebrated his victory. There, on Feb. 9, the roulette wheel will spin again.