Texas Senator Ted Cruz has beaten controversial candidate Donald Trump at the Iowa caucuses as vote counting drew to a close on Monday night, reported The Guardian. Cruz had been leading in Iowa polls by double digits in over the last few months, though his numbers had started dwindling with influential local newspaper Des Moines Register predicting a Trump victory by five points. However, Cruz surged ahead at 28 points, maintaining his lead through the counting process. Trump ended up with 24 points, struggling to stay ahead of Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who came in with 23 points.

Among the Democrats, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders stayed neck-in-neck as counting progressed, with experts saying it was too close to call. Clinton was later declared an "apparent winner" after leading by two-tenths of a point, and her campaign announced her victory. Though Clinton led early with 52 points to Sanders’ 48, he quickly closed the gap. Democrats called it the narrowest victory margin in the caucus' history. Straggling candidate Martin O’Malley accepted defeat after receiving paltry support, and is expected to announce an end to his Presidential bid later in the day.

Bernie Sanders asked the Democratic Party to release a raw vote count from Iowa after Clinton's close win. He also asked officials to release details of voter totals. Sanders said the results pointed to voters who wanted more radical change than what was being offered.

The Iowa caucuses mark the beginning of the Presidential election season in the United States, and are seen as a litmus test for voting trends in the rest of the country. The caucuses determine which candidates from both the major parties are elected into the county conventions. The county conventions then select candidates for the state conventions and eventually the national conventions. The conventions are part of the nominating process for the eventual two candidates that will run for President, Republican and Democratic.