40 Takeaways From The 2016 Iowa Caucuses, Ranked

Here's everything the media noticed Monday night, from the sublimely insightful to the glaringly obvious.

The Iowa caucuses, mercifully, are over. The votes are in, the winners have declared victory and the people who finished third are also sort of declaring victory for some reason. The delegates have been apportioned -- or, more precisely, a teensy number of the thousands of delegates the eventual winner will need to collect have been apportioned. But how do we make sense of what happened?

As always, we look to the media for "takeaways." There are a lot for you to sample this Tuesday, but which are the hottest and most yummy? Herewith, Eat The Press offers the definitive ranking of the major Iowa takeaways, chosen by a scientific process of being correct about stuff.

1. The Democratic contest was close everywhere. There was a bunch of conventional wisdom, going in, about where the Sanders vote was strong and where Clinton had a beachhead. That all went out the window as the race proved tight all over the map.

2. "For the first time in the 2016 race, the conventional rules of politics applied to Donald Trump." What we refer to as "norms" made a brief comeback Monday night. 

3. Cruz's opponents threw everything they had at him -- and he survived. This really was a solid win for a candidate who spent his last fortnight in Iowa getting shellacked. (See also: "Ted Cruz proved he can take a punch.")

4. Iowans really need to up their caucus game. Come on, Polk County, it's just counting.

5. Donors will press Bush, Christie and Kasich to drop out. Good news for Marco.

6. The Democrats' bases don't look like they did in 2008. Clinton ceded white working-class voters to Sanders, but she kept the Obama coalition.

7. O'Malley voters held strong -- maybe a little too strong. Per Pat Rynard at the blog Iowa Starting Line, in many instances O'Malley's supporters didn't swing their support to another candidate in precincts where he wasn't viable, "so they weren't counted in the end at all."

8. Hillary Clinton "isn't a very good presidential candidate." It is weird that she keeps picking campaign teams that don't ever seem to actually want to campaign. (See also: "Hillary Clinton is a horrible candidate.")

9. Biden and Warren "must be kicking themselves." Probably Joe a little harder than Liz.

10. The Clinton campaign may shift resources out of New Hampshire. I guess that figures.

11. Trump's supporters "now have a more accurate picture of their size." Tell that to everyone using the #microsoftrubiofraud hashtag. (See also: "Trump underperformed badly.")

12. Bernie Sanders got out his vote. He's proven that organization is not king in Iowa.

13. Ted Cruz's victory shows that organization is still king in Iowa. Uh, this one could go either way, I guess.

14. Iowa is once again a "challenge for Clinton." It seems to have been a challenge for everyone, actually.

15. Ted Cruz is "your new front-runner." You know, for the next week or so.

16. South Carolina could be Clinton's New Hampshire. Maybe Florida will be her Nevada, who knows? Maybe Wyoming will be her Colorado. They kind of look the same.

17. Ethanol: big loser. Sure, but this just sets up the "ethanol comeback" narrative for 2020.

18. Rubio "might turn out to be the real long-term winner." The only problem is, no one can name what state he's going to win.

19. "Had [Trump] won tonight, he would have been extremely difficult to defeat." Been over this before, but the moment is a significant one. (See also: "Trump's relationship to polls finally hurt him."

20. Trump and Rubio are "on a collision course." Sure, who could have seen that coming when they both got into the same primary?

21. It's "now, officially, a 1-on-1 race" on the Democratic side. "Wait, it wasn't before?" -- everyone whose last name isn't Chafee, O'Malley, Lessig or Webb.

22. It was a big night for Rubio. If you (and he) say so! (See also: "Marco-mentum is real.")

23. "Third place is not a win" for Rubio. If you (and his opponents) say so!

24. "Why are the media obsessed with the GOP's populist candidate, when 75 percent of GOP voters in Iowa voted against him?" Probably because it wasn't until Monday night that GOP voters in Iowa voted.

25. "Marco Rubio won the establishment primary." Do you get delegates for this, or just a nice ribbon? (See also: "Marco Rubio is on the rise."

26. The other establishment candidates lost the establishment primary. Oof, you probably get even fewer delegates for this.

27. Sanders is "a serious threat to Clinton." You know, assuming the vagaries of the primary calendar haven't front-loaded his two best chances to win.

28. South Carolina will be "a battle royale." Yeah, man, they're having a primary there and everything.

29. "The Democratic race is still too close to call." Good thing we have The Wall Street Journal to point this out to us.

30. Massive turnout is good. Sure, sure.

31. Why did so many people vote for Ben Carson? (They like Ben Carson.)

32. "Zero percent of Democrats voted for a minority candidate." I'm more interested to know whom minority voters supported on Monday, but I understand my options are limited in Iowa.

33. Trump only turned out enough voters to finish second. Good counting, CNN!

34. "Cruz and Sanders both rail against the Establishment." And USA Today is on it!

35. "I have no idea what the second-place finish means for Mr. Trump -- and neither does anyone else." Cool, cool, definitely put that in a newspaper.

36. Candidates gave speeches. First time watching one of these things?

37. "It was particularly disheartening to see the national media run wild with the coin flip story." Yeah, it's definitely the media's fault that the Iowa caucuses are weird enough to allow coin flips to play a critical role in delegate allocation.

38. "Clinton survives and advances." Did you... did you think she was going to drop out?

39. Sanders fans are an angry lot sometimes. Yep, I'm on Twitter, too!

40. "Martin O'Malley had no chance." This is more like a takeaway from May of last year.


Jason Linkins edits "Eat The Press" for The Huffington Post and co-hosts the HuffPost politics podcast "So, That Happened." Subscribe here, and listen to the latest episode below.