Iowa Caucus Results: Romney, Paul And Santorum In 3-Way Race

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romney-paul-santorumDoors have closed at caucus precincts across Iowa, and early results from CBS News entrance polls indicate there is three-way race for the GOP presidential nomination between Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

Much data has yet to be collected, and the early arrivers surveyed may not reflect the total caucus voters. The precincts closed their doors at 7 p.m. CT, leaving Republican voters in the Hawkeye State to be the first to weigh in on the GOP contest.

The caucus process is straightforward: Registered Republicans at the caucuses pass around paper ballots or may just write their choice on pieces of paper. The results are tallied and called into party headquarters.

The contest for the Republican presidential nomination has been hard fought over several months, with just about every candidate taking a turn leading in the polls. In both Iowa and nationwide polls, Romney has maintained the support of 20 percent to 30 percent of GOP voters. His GOP rivals, meanwhile, each enjoyed a temporary surge only to lose momentum.

Technically speaking, the caucuses are largely symbolic — the results will represent the viewpoints of just a fraction of the American population. Iowa will send just 28 delegates to the Republican National Convention in Florida, where a candidate will need the support of at least 1,143 to win the presidential nomination. On top of all that, the Iowa delegates aren’t officially chosen on caucus night — they’re selected at a state convention in June.

That said, the caucuses have the potential to change the race. A strong showing from Mitt Romney could solidify the notion that the former Massachusetts governor is the inevitable nominee. Or former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum could gain the momentum to expand his appeal beyond Christian conservatives, siphoning support from other candidates.

{CBS News/Matzav.com Newscenter}

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