What the 2016 Iowa Caucus Results Mean for the General Election

Let's start with the Republicans since they had a clear winner in Iowa: Ted Cruz, who won 28 percent of the vote. It is important to remember that Rick Santorum won in Iowa in 2012 as did Mike Huckabee in 2008; both appealed heavily to social conservatives/the religious right, and neither won the nomination. So, the fact that Cruz won in Iowa means... nothing. At least not yet.

In fact, most of the news outlets have focused on Marco Rubio coming in third with 23 percent of the vote. (He was expected to win about 18 percent of the vote.) Even though Rubio didn't officially win in Iowa, the fact that he won more votes than expected has given the establishment Republicans a glimmer of hope that they haven't had since this campaign begun. While Rubio's win (er...non-win) is somewhat exciting, it's a little too soon to tell if he will truly be the establishment's "Great White Hispanic Hope."

As Mark Halperin and John Heilemann point out on their show The Circus (great show; highly recommend), the four establishment Republican candidates (Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich) are all taking away votes from each other, creating a "prisoner's dilemma"-type situation; if all of them stay in the race, they run the risk of splitting the votes, and thereby ensuring a loss for all four of them and win for either Donald Trump or Cruz. However, if three of them were to drop out of the race, they would significantly increase the chances of one of them beating Trump or Cruz to win the nomination.

Seeing as they are politicians, it is unlikely any of them will be humble enough to heed this warning and drop out for the sake of their party's faction. In fact, Chris Christie insulted Rubio, calling him "the boy in the bubble," mere hours after Rubio officially became the establishment front runner, demonstrating that he has no plans to step aside. Perhaps Rubio will have enough momentum to overcome the other three candidates stealing away his voters, but only time will tell.

On the Democratic side, while there are only two candidates left, the race seems even more unpredictable than the Republican race with ten candidates. In Iowa, the Democratic race was so close that some of the caucus votes came down to a coin toss.

Ultimately, Hillary Clinton was named the official winner, beating Bernie Sanders by a mere 0.2 percent. Had Sanders won, even by that same slim margin, it would have been quite an upset; news outlets would have been quick to compare Sanders' Iowa win to Barack Obama's in 2008 and note how this would be the turning point in the Sanders campaign. Nevertheless, we don't live in hypothetical land. And in the real world, 0.2 percent can make or break a presidential run, evidently.

The fact that Sanders lost by an incredibly small margin could help his campaign, but it is unlikely that he will enjoy the same momentum shift that Obama experienced eight years ago. It's not over for Sanders, but it will definitely be an uphill battle for his campaign. He is projected to win in New Hampshire, but the real struggle will be winning the national votes, especially when running against such a well-financed and experienced campaign as Clinton is running.

Regardless of your political views, the outcome of the Democratic nomination will create a very interesting situation either way. If Sanders, an older, grumpier, Independent candidate who openly identifies as a socialist, wins the nomination over a well-seasoned, well-known, well-connected, non-socialist candidate such as Clinton, it will easily be considered one of the greatest upsets in our political history.

If Clinton wins the nomination, she could potentially be the first presidential nominee to be indicted while running for office. (Okay, so Obama probably won't charge her with anything while he's in office because it'd be bad for the party.) Even without the indictment, the Clintons (both Bill and Hillary) have some serious skeletons in their closet, some of which have already been exposed by Halperin and Heilemann in their book, Game Change, and others that have yet to be revealed. (Here's a small preview of what's to come.)

Many have inferred that the Republicans are waiting for Clinton to win the Democratic nomination before they unleash the attack ads that will reveal all of the scandals associated with her and her family. I have to admit that part of me is incredibly interested in seeing those attack ads, and, as of now, there is a strong chance we'll end up seeing them. However, Sanders is still very much in it, and could still come out on top with a win that would liken to David beating Goliath.