Jan 4, BBC News

Democratic contender Barack Obama campaigning in Iowa
All candidates hope their campaigns will take off in Iowa

Caucus organiser
Democratic and Republican presidential hopefuls are undergoing their first real test of public opinion as the US election process begins in Iowa.

Candidates have made final appeals for support, with both the Republican and Democratic races too close to call.

At caucuses, or local meetings, across Iowa, voters will decide which of the contenders to back for nomination.

The caucuses are now under way in schools and homes across the state with results expected within an hour or two.

Most opinion polls suggest an extremely tight three-way race between Democratic contenders Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards. The latest survey prior to the caucuses by Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby showed Senator Obama just ahead of Mr Edwards, with Senator Clinton in third place.

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