FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — Some may have been surprised by the narrow victories posted by Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton in the Iowa caucus, but Sacred Heart University Professor Gary Rose said the results were not unexpected.
“I wasn’t all that surprised,” Rose told the Daily Voice on Tuesday. “I knew that it was going to be extremely close.”
During Monday’s caucus, Clinton edged Bernie Sanders by a vote of "one state delegate equivalent" for Democrats. Among Republicans, Cruz gained nearly 28 percent of the vote, compared with 24 percent for Donald Trump and 23 percent for Marco Rubio.
Even though Rose expected a close race, he didn’t predict the Republican winner.
“I did not think think Ted Cruz was going to come in first,” Rose said. “I’m surprised that Ted Cruz actually upstaged Trump last night.”
But the real story is Marco Rubio, the junior senator from Florida, Rose said. Like Trump, he won seven delegates.
Rubio's performance was impressive, Rose said. “He almost came in second last night,” he said, adding that he expects Rubio’s popularity to surge.
Voters can soon expect a narrower field as candidates drop out of the race, Rose said. After their dismal results, Democrat Martin O'Malley and Republican Mike Huckabee — both former governors — had already dropped out of the race as of Monday night. Soon voters will see a three- or four-way race, Rose said.
Going forward, Rose said the candidates must promote their core strengths. Cruz will have to tap into his conservative ideology and use it to promote his candidacy, Rose said.
Clinton, who previously served as secretary of state and as a senator, should emphasize her experience. Her work in dealing with national security issues may resonate with voters, Rose said.
“I think she’s going to have to continue to reiterate to voters how much she knows in that area,” Rose said.
Regardless of who eventually wins their party’s nominations, Rose said this year’s Iowa caucus was far more chaotic than those in past years.
“It does seem to be much more of a free-for-all than it once was,” Rose said.
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