The north-central U.S. state of Iowa is holding the first contest in a months-long process that will take place in states across America to determine who will become the Republican Party nominee to challenge President Barack Obama in this November’s U.S. election.
Iowa voters are gathering in caucus meetings to declare their choice for the nominee.
The latest opinion polls have shown former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in a close race in Iowa against the Texas congressman Ron Paul, with the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum, surging into third place in recent days.
The rest of the seven Republican contenders include former House Of Representatives speaker Newt Gingrich, Texas Governor Rick Perry, Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann and former U.S. ambassador to China Jon Huntsman.
Polls have suggested that 40 or more percent of Iowa voters were still undecided just days before the caucus meetings.
The Iowa contest will be followed a week later by the New Hampshire primary on January 10, in a nationwide process that is due to last until June.
compiled from agency reports