When the caucuses were complete, Iowa Republicans had decided to "choose Cruz".
From the podium, the 46-year-old victor contended this first win would not be his last
"I cannot wait to stand on that debate stage with Hillary Clinton," said Cruz to supporters.
Never swerving from his deeply conservative message, the junior Senator from Texas combined stump swagger with a relentless, disciplined, ground attack, visiting all 99 counties in the Hawk Eye State.
"You will have a commander in chief who finally has your back," said Cruz before leaving Iowa for New Hampshire.
By delivering a stinging defeat to the once front running Donald Trump, Cruz guaranteed his campaign viability deep into the coming primaries and dented the New York billionaire's claim of political invincibility.
"Perhaps this was the wake-up call the Republicans needed to start and sweep Mr. Trump off the stage," said Jon Taylor, a political scientist at St. Thomas University.
But like many analysts, Taylor is quick to recall the less than stellar outcomes for past Iowa GOP winners Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum.
"Look where they went and the answer is 'nowhere', so there is a question - Does what happened in Iowa transfer elsewhere? The answer is, it doesn't always," said Taylor.
Cruz is looking to buck that trend, a prospect that appears probable considering the string of friendly Southern state primaries looming beyond next week's contest in New Hampshire.
"He is second in nearly every statewide poll ,except for Texas, where he leads, so he's in a good position. He's trying to build on that, but he needs to show that he can win areas that are a little outside his comfort zone," said Jay Ayer, political scientist at Texas Southern University.