Donald Trump has called dozens of people losers: Karl Rove, Mark Cuban, Seth Meyers. After Monday night's Iowa caucuses, the Republican billionaire was facing the title himself.
With 85 percent of precincts reporting results, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was declared the winner with 28 percent of the vote at about 10 p.m. EST. Trump had roughly 24 percent support and was fighting Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for second place.
But the 2016 race is far from over for The Donald. In a year where voters have signaled a growing frustration with Washington and political elites amid stagnant wages and global instability — a trend that saw outsider candidates like Trump and Cruz win more than 50 percent of the Republican vote and Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders break even in Iowa — Trump's unprecedented campaign could still eventually make it to the White House if he can nab victories in the upcoming New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries and go on to secure the GOP nomination.
Trump kept it optimistic in his concession speech Monday. He congratulated Cruz, thanked his volunteers and revealed he was returning to the campaign trail immediately. "We're leaving tonight, and tomorrow afternoon we'll be in New Hampshire, and that'll be something special," Trump said. "I think we're going to be proclaiming the victory. I hope."
Overall, the 2016 election wasn't supposed to go like this for the Republican party. After eight years of President Barack Obama, the GOP was ready to retake control of the country. Its slate of candidates was strong. There was Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a relative of two former presidents; Rubio, the young Cuban American TIME once called "the Republican savior;" and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who won the Iowa caucuses in 2012.
Enter Trump — on an escalator. His campaign was nontraditional from the start, kicking off with a 45-minute speech where he declared the American dream to be dead and himself to be "really rich." Trump acknowledged his past as a businessman and vowed to use it to the nation's advantage.
The anti-establishment theme worked. On June 8, about a week before Trump revealed he was running, Bush was winning with the support of 12 percent of likely GOP primary voters. By July 6, he'd been branded as a career politician and relegated to second place by Trump.
Retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina also capitalized on their Washington outsider status, with poll numbers peaking during fall GOP debates. But they couldn't touch Trump, who had become a sideshow to the party's comeback. The outspoken billionaire dominated the news cycle, labeling Mexican immigrants as "criminals, drug dealers and rapists" and referencing Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly's menstrual cycle in interviews. Since then, he's called for a ban on Muslim immigration and a wall along the border with Mexico.
A Trump White House would look different than the current one, and not just because he said he'd build a ballroom. Trump has proposed raising tariffs on Chinese goods to 45 percent and repealing the Affordable Care Act. He's vowed to "knock the hell out of ISIS," at one point suggesting attacking terrorists' families, and said he'd "get along very well with" controversial Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Many of Trump's policies could end up on the moderate side. The candidate has said marriage equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans should be a state issue — a direct contradiction of the 2015 Supreme Court decision — but he's also supported enacting anti-workplace discrimination legislation for them. Trump has also released specific plans for reforming the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and promised to tackle African-American unemployment.
Through it all, his poll numbers have been, as Trump likes to say, huge. He hasn't dropped below a national average of 25 percent support among likely GOP primary voters since August. Carson came close to touching him in October but declined soon afterward; as of Monday Trump was No. 1 with 39 percent.
That political passion didn't translate into enough votes Monday to win the candidate Iowa, even though the total turnout of 180,000 broke records.
— just alan (@anythingbutdem) February 2, 2016
Trump fans shouldn't necessarily give up hope, as the Iowa caucus is not a sure predictor of success later on. Strategist Stuart Stevens told Vox recently the process is absurd and "like a student body election" because the importance of the results is often distorted. For example, in 2012, Santorum won, but former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney got the party's nomination. In 2008, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee won, but Arizona Sen. John McCain became the nominee.
In short: The situation can, and likely will, change in the next nine months.
“Generally, the primary and caucus polls involve smaller samples than are used in the general election, so they can fairly well identify groups of candidates leading or being farther back, but sample sizes aren’t big enough to determine differences between individual candidates,” polling analyst Michael Traugott told International Business Times last week.
I believe in Donald Trump. Bring on New Hampshire. #trump2016
— Adam C. Profitt (@adam_c_profitt) February 2, 2016
Trump will now turn to New Hampshire, where the primary is set for Feb. 9. As of Monday, he was leading by about 22 percentage points in the state. Whereas Iowa has a large evangelical population that helped Cruz win, USA Today reported New Hampshire voters usually prove more moderate.
“The question mark is really how strong and committed the Trump vote is,” district official and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie supporter Peter Spaulding told the New York Times. “New Hampshire is a fickle electorate, and there are always surprises.”
In his speech from Iowa Monday, the candidate made it clear he wasn't deterred by Cruz's victory. Trump said he would defeat Hillary Clinton or Sanders in the general election after the Democratic contenders seemed to finish in a tie Monday night.
"There are so many different indications that we beat her and we beat her easily," Trump said before a cheering crowd. "We will go on to get the Republican nomination, and we will go on to easily beat Hillary or Bernie or whoever the hell they throw up there."