Written by Staff Writer
02 Feb, 2016 | 9:05 am
The nationwide process of selecting candidates to run in November’s US presidential race is under way in the state of Iowa.
Voters have begun meeting – or caucusing – across the state in schools, churches and other venues.
With half the Republican votes counted, it appears that there is a three-way fight between Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
Iowa kicks off a state-by-state contest over the coming weeks and months.
The Democratic race is also too close to call, with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders mounting an unexpectedly strong challenge against the former first lady and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.
Campaigning intensified over the weekend as candidates toured the sparsely populated Midwestern state to court undecided voters.
Voting began at 19:00 local time (01:00 GMT on Tuesday) and the final results – a winner from each party – could be named within hours.
This first electoral test is seen as key because victory can boost campaign momentum as other states vote.
Supporters of the main candidates in Iowa gave very different reasons for their backing.
Suzanne Wood said Mr Cruz was someone who “knows how to argue for conservative values”, citing his stance on gun rights and religion.
For Julian Raven, an artist and preacher campaigning for Donald Trump, the Republican has the “courage that is required to match up with the existential threats that we face as a western civilisation”.
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