Down to the Wire: It's Anyone's Race in Iowa

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Iowans will cast the first votes in this presidential election year Tuesday. The Iowa caucuses are a top prize for the GOP nominees and is expected to narrow down the field of candidates.
    
Most Iowa Republicans appear to have made up their minds, but a large number say they could switch at the last minute.

Down to the Wire

Iowans have been voting first in the presidential election process for 40 years.  No candidate that has finished worse than third place in the Hawkeye State has ever gone on to win the GOP nomination.
    
Now the fight for those top three spots is heading down to the wire.
    
The final poll conducted by the Des Moines Register has former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney holding on to the lead, Texas Rep. Ron Paul in second place, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum in third.
         
However, an unexpected eleventh hour surge Santorum is growing stronger.

"We still have a ways to go, but we are the one on the move," Santorum noted. "Nobody else is, and that's pretty exciting."
   
Santorum has been helped by the collapse in popularity of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.  Gingrich says his slide in the polls was caused by an onslaught of negative advertising against him in the state, including an onslaught of ads from Romney supporters.

"He would buy an election if he could." Gingrich said of Romney. "Three and a half million dollars in negative ads. You tell me."

Still Anyone's Race?
 
Nevertheless, there could still be a chance for contestants like Gingrich, who no longer sit at the top of the field.
    
The Register poll found that 41 percent of caucus voters could change their mind before they cast their ballot.

"Look, I think this is a volatile environment where people are going to walk in, undecided or semi-decided, and maybe as many as 50 percent could switch during the course of the caucus," Gingrich said.  
   
Rep. Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn., agrees and is confident her recent campaigning in the state will pay off.

"This isn't just about polling," she said. "This is about what we're seeing in reality, and I think Tuesday night people are going to see a miracle.
    
The Iowa caucuses do not always predict who the Republican presidential candidate will be.   

For example, Mike Huckabee won Iowa four years ago, but Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., went on to win the GOP nomination.

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