Ted Cruz, a conservative politician from Texas has on Monday night defeated Donald Trump to win Primaries Republican race with 28 percent of the vote in Iowa’s presidential nominating contest for the Republican party, the first in the 2016 race for the White House.
In the Democratic poll, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were squared off in a virtual dead heat late on Monday.
Cruz, a conservative politician from Texas, won with 28 percent of the vote compared to 24 percent for the controversial businessman Trump, according to US media.
“Tonight is a victory for courageous conservatives across Iowa and all across this great nation,” Cruz said in his victory speech.
Marco Rubio, a senator from Florida, came in third place with 23 percent, making him easily the leader among establishment Republican candidates.
Clinton, a former secretary of state, held a lead of 49.9 percent in the Democratic race compared to 49.6 percent for Sanders, a self-styled democratic socialist senator from the state of Vermont, with 94 percent of the precincts reporting.
Earlier, US presidential candidates descended on Iowa to campaign for their party nominations in the first voting contest of the 2016 elections.
Al Jazeera’s Kimberly Halkett, reporting from Des Moines in Iowa, said candidates spent the final hours holding rallies and urging supporters to come out and caucus.
“Turnout is critical for all the candidates. That’s why over the weekend, the Clinton campaign reached out to more than 125,000 households,” she said.
“Clinton is struggling to overcome issues of trust and a scandal involving her use of a private email server while secretary of state.”
Halkett said while a win in Iowa of the Democratic or Republican caucuses doesn’t always point to an eventual win of the nomination, it provides important momentum and and drives donations for further campaigning.
“Historically a win is important for another reason too. No candidate who has finished less than third place has ever gone on to win the White House,” she said.
In the Democratic race, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley was considered the most endangered Democrat prior to the caucuses.
Sources close to his campaign told Al Jazeera that O’Malley would suspend his campaign after the poll.
On the Republican side, Mike Huckabee announced he was pulling out of the presidential race after a poor result on Monday.
Further departures may occur after Iowa, but New Hampshire on February 9 may be more of a winnowing event, because that is where more of the hopefuls are pinning hopes