Cruz wins Republican caucuses in Iowa; toss-up between Clinton and Sanders

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Iowa Caucuses (credit: WNEP)

DES MOINES, Iowa–Tonight, the first ballots of the 2016 presidential contest were counted in Iowa, and they will inevitably have an impact on polls conducted in the days to come, either by reinforcing the trends that have already taken shape or by reframing the entire contest.

With 90 percent of precincts reporting, Ted Cruz took the Republican win with 28 percent of the vote. Donald Trump wasn’t far behind, with 24 percent of the vote, and Marco Rubio was right on Trump’s heels with 23 percent.

The rest of the Republican candidates fell as follows: Ben Carson (9 percent), Rand Paul (5 percent) and Jeb Bush (3 percent), with the rest of the field taking 2 percent or less of the vote.

For the Democrats, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are neck-in-neck with about 50 percent each. Martin O’Malley, who sources say is dropping out of the race, came away with less than 1 percent of the vote.

Keep an eye on results here:

Related: Here’s a look at how the Iowa caucuses actually work

Coming up: New Hampshire

There is one common theme emerging in New Hampshire polling: Both sides appear to have a clear leader. Both Trump and Sanders have comfortable leads over their respective fields, but the results of Monday’s caucuses could lead to a shake-up in what has seemed like a fairly stable contest.

New CNN Poll of Polls averages in New Hampshire find Sanders well ahead of Clinton in the first primary state of the 2016 nomination race, 55 percent to 37 percent. Those figures are unchanged from the previous CNN Poll of Polls there, released Wednesday. On the Republican side, the new Poll of Polls finds Trump at 31 percent, Cruz 13 percent, Rubio 11 percent, Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 10 percent, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 8 percent and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at 7 percent.

Trump’s lead in New Hampshire shows little sign of abating, but as in Iowa, recent polling there suggests a sizable chunk of the electorate has doubts about him as the party’s standard bearer. The new CNN/WMUR Poll there, released Sunday night, found that among likely primary voters who consider themselves moderate or liberal, few have made up their minds about whom to support, and nearly half have ruled out the possibility of supporting Trump. Those two factors suggest a moderate candidate who posts a strong showing in Iowa could potentially gain support in New Hampshire from this less-committed moderate pool of voters, who typically make up nearly half of GOP primary voters there.

New Hampshire voters frequently make up their minds in the final days of the contest — according to exit polls there in 2012, 46 percent of Republican voters said they made their decision in the last few days, as did 38 percent of Democratic voters in 2008 — so the results in polls right now are by no means the final word on the race.