SIOUX CITY, IA -
With the dawn of a New Year upon us, we're just four days away from the Iowa Caucuses. Often considered the first major electoral event of the presidential year, the 2012 race for the GOP nomination is about as wide open as it can get. And for voters that could have a major impact come Tuesday.
There really is no exception or rule when it comes to the Iowa Caucuses. The past three Democratic winners have all gone on to win the party's nomination, while the most recent Republican nominee, John McCain, finished 4th in 2008. With a GOP field full of candidates that haven't really separated themselves from one another, anticipation for Tuesday is rather tepid.
In the summer, Bev's On The River restaurant was surrounded by sandbags against the rising Missouri River. Now, the restaurant's open again, not just for business but for discussing politics.
"It's active," Peter Riley of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, said. "We get mailings and calls and that sort of thing."
Riley's been caucusing for more than 30 years and says, although there's a lot of talk about it, there hasn't been a lot of action. Some candidates, including Rick Perry and Ron Paul, have passed through Bev's, while others haven't set foot in Sioux City. Riley believes that's an indicator of a divided field.
"It was Gingrich and then everybody blasted him on TV for all his excess baggage," Riley said. "So then Paul was surging. I don't know."
"I think that's part of it," Elwood Seybold of Onawa, Iowa, said. "I think a lot of people are undecided right down to the last minute. They're still listening to all the candidates and trying to decide."
In years past, the Iowa Caucuses haven't necessarily been an indicator of who will eventually get the presidential nomination. But Iowans believe Tuesday will lower the field.
"It'll weed out those who come in last," Joellen Long of Sioux City, Iowa said. "I'm sure they'll drop out because it costs a lot to campaign."
And while the caucuses may reduce the field, for voters like Seybold, he's hoping his darkhorse candidate, Rick Santorum, can use a strong showing to stay alive.
"I think it would make a big difference for him," Seybold said. "He's coming up in the polls and I think it would really give him a big boost if he would have a good turnout here."
The 2012 Caucuses start Tuesday night at 7 p.m. If you don't know your caucus location, click here to find out
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