Updated 08.48 am
TED CRUZ HAS edged out long-time frontrunner Donald Trump to take the first official win in the race for the White House.
Cruz won Iowa’s Republican caucus, winning 27.7% of the vote ahead of Trump’s 24.3% while Marco Rubio also polled strongly with 23.1% of the vote.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are in a virtual dead heat with the former First Lady just taking the narrowest of wins
With nearly all the precincts reporting, Clinton clung to a razor thin lead with 49.9% against 49.5% for Sanders. Some of the caucuses were so close that the winner was chosen by a coin flip.
Governor of Maryland Martin O’Malley came in a distant third place with 0.6% of the vote.
Speaking after the result, Clinton said she was “breathing a big sigh of relief”.
There is so much at stake in this election, I don’t need to tell you. Every single one of you who came out for me, who worked so many hours from my young organizers with energy and passion, to the families and friends across this state, I am deeply grateful.
Clinton, who lost in Iowa to now-President Barack Obama, had been hoping to deal a solid blow to her upstart challenger this time around.
In his victory, speech Cruz said that his victory was a win for “courageous conservatives” in the state.
“Let me first of all say, to god be the glory,” he said.
Tonight is a victory for the grassroots. Tonight is a victory for courageous conservatives across Iowa, and all across this great nation. Tonight the state of Iowa has spoken. Iowa has sent notice that the Republican nominee for the next president of the United States will not be chosen by the media. Will not be chosen by the Washington establishment.
Despite not toppling Clinton last night, Bernie Sanders sounded a confident tone as he riled up his passionate supporters ahead of the next vote in New Hampshire where he holds a poll lead.
Sanders thanked his supports for taking on, “the most powerful political organisation in the United States of America.”
In a packed hotel ballroom close to Des Moines airport, where enthusiastic supporters chanted ‘Bernie! Bernie!’, Sanders said that “the American people are saying no to a rigged economy”.
I think the people of Iowa have sent a very profound message to the political establishment, to the economic establishment, and by the way, to the media establishment. It is just too late for establishment politics and establishment economics.
We finished second and I want to tell you something, I’m honoured. I’m really honoured. And I want to thank Ted and I want to congratulate all of the other candidates including Mike Huckabee, who’s become a really good friend of mine.
- With reporting by © – AFP 2016