Des Moines (Iowa), Feb 2: While the race for the White House has now focused on the close contest between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in the Democratic camp and Ted Cruz and Donald Trump in the Republican house, two candidates from both camps suspended their campaigns for the presidential nomination after failing to impress at the Iowa caucuses on Monday.
Republican Mike Huckabee
The first is Mike Huckabee. The 10-year governor of Arkansas and the winner of the 2008 Iowa caucuses (he in fact had the record of the highest number of votes in Iowa till Monday) finished his second go at the presidency after ending ninth in Iowa this time.
Huckabee, who had a nice run in the 2008 presidential race in Iowa where he gave the John McCains and Mitt Romneys a run for their money and won a loyalty from certain ideological elites, was also regarded as a potential candidate who could allow his party to resort to a course correction before this year's election.
Particularly after 2012, in which Republicans learned that nominating a former finance executive worth $250 million could make them seem out of touch, there was an argument to be made that Huckabee provide a worthwhile course correction for the party in 2016.
But the presence of the likes of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz marred Huckabee's chances this time. While Trump stole the media attention to boost his suspicion on immigration and call to protect Social Security, Medicare, etc., Cruz emerged as the consensus favourite among social conservative groups. The evangelical base did not work out for Cruz either this time. The man was soon relegated.
Democrat Martin O'Malley
Unlike Huckabee, O'Malley finished third in the Democrats' list but with less than one per cent of the delegates, pushing him to suspend his campaign for the presidential nomination.
The former governor of Maryland, who was praised by Bernie Sanders after the Iowa results came out, was appreciated for his joining the presidential race against seasoned politicians like Hillary Clinton but with a broad acceptance and backed by Elizabeth Warren who rallied behind O'Malley, it was thought that the man could emerge as the Democrats' left wing's best opportunity to defeat Hillary.
But Hillary's political skills in addressing key interest group issues and securing support of important labour unions and Sanders' message of a strong social democracy left O'Malley with little space to manoeuvre.
That O'Malley wasn't going to win was clear and hence his decision to drop out wouldn't surprise many. But for observers, O'Malley's proven record as a consistent liberal and Democrat unlike his two rivals and his decent job as the governor of Maryland had inspired hope in many that a better fortune was awaiting him.