Iowa Caucus 2016: Candidates Make Final Pitch
This year’s presidential candidates are to make final pitches to people in Iowa, where the first votes for party nominations will take place later.
Polls suggest that Republican Donald Trump has a narrow lead over Texas Senator Ted Cruz but both are well ahead of the others.
In the Democratic field, the race is slightly tighter, with Hillary Clinton edging ahead of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
Each party’s nominee will contest the presidential election in November.
Over the weekend, the candidates barnstormed the sparsely populated Midwestern state of Iowa in an attempt to court undecided voters.
Campaigning is expected to continue until voting starts at 19:00 local time on February 1.
Candidates are hoping to triumph in this first electoral test because victory can spark campaign momentum as voting moves to the other states.
Among the wide Republican field, recent polling suggests that Donald Trump has a comfortable, though not certain, lead over his main rival, Ted Cruz.
The Democrats’ far smaller field – three candidates as opposed to 11 – appears to be more competitive.
Frontrunner Hillary Clinton has a commanding lead nationally but in Iowa she is narrowly ahead of self-proclaimed Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders.
Iowa has an unusual election system called a caucus, which involves people gathering at sites across the state at 19:00 local time on February 1.
Democratic voters divide themselves into groups based on their preferred candidate but the Republican caucus process is more like a traditional ballot.
The last Republican winner in Iowa who won the party’s nomination was George W. Bush 16 years ago.
One issue that could have implications in Iowa is the weather.
The National Weather Service is currently forecasting a winter storm to strike the area on Monday night.
Candidates are worried that the incoming storm could prevent their voters turning out earlier in the evening.
Donald Trump joked with his supporters on January 30, saying: “You’re from Iowa! Are you afraid of snow?”
Iowan law mandates that it be the first “state, territory, or any other group” to select delegates in the presidential nomination
This first vote in Iowa will be followed in the weeks ahead by more ballots in the 49 other states plus US territories.
Each party’s nominee will be chosen by the summer, and the next president will be elected in November.