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On the Republican side, it was a great night for Ted Cruz. He held the critical Iowa evangelical votes, won convincingly (following Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum) and positions himself well heading into the southern primaries. Cruz had to win Iowa. And he did.

It was also a GREAT night for Marco Rubio who comes seemingly from nowhere to place a strong third right behind Donald Trump.

On paper, Rubio is the strongest possible nominee for Republicans in the fall.

He’s from the largest battleground state and has youthful charisma.

If Rubio places above Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Chris Christie in New Hampshire next week he’ll knock them out of the race and give Cruz and Trump a run for their money.

For his part, it was a bad night for Trump who under-performed his estimated turnout proving – at least in Iowa – he was more celebrity than serious candidate. He can turn things around, however, with a big win in New Hampshire next week.

Iowa Republicans knocked out of the race Mike Huckabee, and likely ended the campaigns of Rand Paul, Ben Carson and Rick Santorum. Carly Fiorina will fight on in New Hampshire, but I think she’s likely to be gone by next week.

On the Democratic side, it was a brutal night for Hillary Clinton who essentially tied 74-year old Democratic-Socialist Bernie Sanders.

My guess is there are a lot of progressive voters sending Clinton a message.

Clinton faces a likely loss in New Hampshire next week, so her narrative will get worse before it gets better.

The flip side is Sanders should have easily won Iowa.

Like Ron Paul four years ago, Sanders had a huge group of excited and motivated supporters who should have flooded the caucus.

But they didn’t. I still don’t see Sanders beating Clinton for the nomination, but with the money he’s raising, he could be around a long time.

Martin O’Malley has ended his campaign, the least surprising result of the evening.

The candidates head to New Hampshire, and then on to South Carolina.

Learn more about the first-in-the-south primary in Front Row Seat at the Circus!

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