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There are plenty of political punches being thrown around the GOP field these days. Christie knocks Bush. Bush knocks Trump. Trump knocks Cruz ... you get the point.

Before they got down to debating the big issues Thursday night, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders wrangled over one big word: progressivism.

Which of them was the true progressive? Was Clinton a progressive at all?

Sanders has long billed himself as a progressive, also describing himself as a "democratic socialist." He has not been known for flirting with the term "moderate." But Clinton has at times willingly chosen the latter label.

The fifth debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders was their first appearance as a duet, and that helped to highlight some of their harmony – even as it heightened their crescendos of dissonance.

With Martin O'Malley having suspended his campaign earlier in the week, the two remaining rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination met in New Hampshire on Thursday night — on stage together for nearly two hours.

"I happen to respect the secretary very much; I hope it's mutual," said Sanders.

And Clinton reciprocated:

For Republicans who aren't named Ted Cruz or Donald Trump, the goal in New Hampshire's upcoming primary is to finish second — at best.

That's the best outcome the establishment Republican contenders can hope for following this week's Iowa caucuses, where Cruz and Trump topped the field in a tight three-way race with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

A political showdown at the Oregon Capitol could result in some very long floor sessions this month. And at the heart of the debate is a clause in the state Constitution that dates back to 1859.

For the past 40 years, New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary status has been vigorously defended by one man: Secretary of State Bill Gardner.

He is the nation's longest-serving secretary of state, taking office in 1976, one year before New Hampshire lawmakers mandated that the Granite State go first in primary voting.

In New Hampshire, the night after the Iowa caucuses, it was hard not to feel the "Marco-mentum."

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio stood on a stage surrounded by more than 700 rowdy supporters, who filled Exeter's picturesque town hall to the brink.

Rubio delivered the same stump speech he's been sticking to for months. But Tuesday night, fresh off his surprisingly strong third-place Iowa finish, the crowd ate up every line.

Two days after finishing second in Iowa, Donald Trump is now alleging that winner Ted Cruz cheated and is threatening to sue over the results.

The confrontational billionaire made his complaints known in his usual way — a series of tweets. The crux of his complaint: the Texas senator's campaign committed "fraud" when it informed caucusgoers of a CNN report that rival Ben Carson was leaving the campaign trail to head home to Florida after the Iowa caucuses, which many speculated meant he might drop out.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is suspending his campaign for president after a disappointing finish in Iowa, turning his focus now to his Senate re-election bid.

"Across the country thousands upon thousands of young people flocked to our message of limited government, privacy, criminal justice reform and a reasonable foreign policy. Brushfires of Liberty were ignited, and those will carry on, as will I," the Republican said in a statement.

Iowa has once again proved its perennial resistance to political inevitability and the power of personality.

In this year's iteration of the Iowa caucuses, national polling leaders Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton had their campaign momentum slowed in significant ways by party activists who preferred their rivals.

A big win in Iowa might have set either leader on the path to a relatively easy nomination. But that was not to be, and now both Trump and Clinton face difficult and perhaps protracted struggles to overcome rivals they had hoped to dismiss.

Donald Trump thought he could upend Iowa caucus traditions. The gamble didn't pay off.

Hillary Clinton hoped she could wipe away her campaign nightmares of eight years ago by posting a solid win over an insurgent Bernie Sanders.

Instead, her margin of victory over Sanders was vanishingly small.

Those were just some of the surprise twists from Monday night's results. Here's what the numbers and results tell us about how and why they happened, according to our analysis of the entrance/exit polling and the county-by-county results.

After a disappointing performance in Iowa, Martin O'Malley is suspending his presidential campaign.

Sources close to the former Maryland governor confirmed the news to NPR and say he will speak soon in Des Moines. Despite campaigning heavily in the Hawkeye State, O'Malley barely registered on Monday night. In many caucuses, he failed to achieve viability — or at least 15 percent at a caucus site — and his supporters were forced to shift their support to either former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Mike Huckabee is ending his presidential campaign after a disappointing Iowa finish.

The former Arkansas governor — who won the Iowa caucuses in 2008 — announced on his Twitter account that he will be suspending his campaign. He was finishing a disappointing 9th in the state he carried eight years ago.

Stephanie Hundley is an enthusiastic Bernie Sanders supporter. The 28-year-old from Waterloo is also enthusiastic about the fact that she's not going to vote for Hillary Clinton just because she's a woman.

The first real votes of the 2016 presidential election will be cast at the Iowa caucuses tonight, starting at 8 p.m. ET.

And that means there are a lot of questions in the air.

Will Donald Trump's lead in the polls translate to dominance in the caucus rooms? Will Iowa voters feel the Bern? What's the mood like on the ground? (You'll find answers at NPR Politics, with a wide range of reporting and analysis on the candidates, the voters and what it all means.)

The Takeaways:

  • Republican candidates raised more than $227 million in 2015, less than the GOP field raised in 2011.
  • The year-end reports include the first disclosure of big money from Donald Trump and reveal the precarious state of Jeb Bush's White House bid.
  • Some wealthy conservative donors, including Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson, haven't put their money behind any GOP candidate yet. Big donors on the Democratic side are behind Hillary Clinton.

For the first time in decades, a freely elected parliament took its seats in Myanmar on Monday, with the party of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi preparing to run the country. The change comes after years of strife — and a weekend of celebration.

The Iowa caucuses are known for hoisting the little-known hopeful to glory. But for each skyrocket that actually launched here, many more have fizzled on the pad.

The slick talkers auditioning for media gigs.

The household name whose prominence fails to translate.

The ambitious up-and-comer seeking name recognition for the future.

The nonpolitician who strikes a nerve the year before the election year.

After Iowa, the bell tolls for these.

For every Obama ...

Finally, after more than 10 months of campaigning from more than a dozen presidential candidates, voters get to weigh in. Iowa Republicans and Democrats will caucus Monday night, and the results could at long last provide some clarity to the Republican and Democratic nominating contests — or not.

Here are five things we're watching:

Donald Trump has not only caused deep divisions in the GOP establishment, but he's also exposed a stark divide within the evangelical community.

Monday's Iowa caucuses are being billed, as they are every election season, as "a fight for the soul of the Party," both Democratic and Republican.

Yes, it's a worn-out cliché, but especially on the Republican side this year, it's a real battle.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is known for being one of the most disliked men in Washington. As he tries to win over voters, his wife Heidi Cruz is trying to vouch for his character and show people that he has a softer side.

Harry Rubenstein is deep in a thought about a log cabin when he pauses, mid-sentence, and disappears down a corridor.

He returns a moment later brandishing a large wooden ax.

Rubenstein is the chair of the political history division at the Smithsonian Museum of American History, and he's standing in a room that's packed with about 100,000 items from previous presidential elections. The collection, he says, ranges "from a little bit before the American Revolution, to probably last week."

Washington Governor Jay Inslee said he’s “undaunted” after a partisan dust up over school funding. The Democrat Thursday sounded a hopeful note that lawmakers will find common ground.

As any bridge player can tell you, the game is different when there is no trump.

On Thursday night in Des Moines, Iowa, the seventh debate among major candidates for president in the Republican Party set a new standard in both substance and tone. And it did so because the front-runner in the 2016 nomination fight, Donald J. Trump, did not attend.

This week, NPR asked voters around the country how they are feeling about this election, and why so many tell us they are anxious or angry.

People are complicated.

That was certainly true of Vincent A. Cianci, better known as Buddy. He was the enigmatic former mayor of Providence, who died Thursday morning at the age of 74.

If Donald Trump keeps his promise not to appear at Thursday night's Fox News debate, it will be the first time in recent history that a top candidate, let alone the front-runner, will skip such a high-profile event so close to Election Day.

But, if anyone can pull off such a stunt and still come out on top, it's probably Trump. He's been breaking all the usual political rules this cycle.

Donald Trump said this week if he went out on Fifth Avenue in New York and shot someone, he probably wouldn't lose any votes.

He chose a pretty big someone — Fox News (whose offices are one block over from Fifth).

Tune in to Thursday night's Republican debate on Fox (9 p.m. EST) in Iowa, the last one before Monday's caucuses, and you'll notice one very big elephant not in the room — Trump. The man who helped Fox to a record 24 million viewers in the first primary debate of this campaign season won't be there.

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