Iowa Democratic race wide open as caucuses near

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Presidential candidates have swarmed Iowa’s rolling landscape for more than a year, making their pitch to potential supporters on campuses, county fairgrounds and in high school gymnasiums. But three weeks before the caucuses usher in the Democratic contest, the battle for the state is wide open.

Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, enter the final stretch with a plausible chance of winning Iowa’s caucuses. A poll released Friday by The Des Moines Register and CNN found them all with similar levels of support.

For two decades, Iowa has had a solid record of backing the ultimate Democratic nominee. A clear victory in its caucuses next month could set the tone for the races that follow in New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

An inconclusive result or one in which several candidates are bunched together near the top could preview a long fight ahead and a possibility the nominee might not be determined until the party convenes in Milwaukee this summer to select its candidate to take on President Donald Trump.

The leading candidates head into Tuesday’s final televised debate for the White House hopefuls before the caucuses. Their closing arguments in Iowa could be complicated by Trump’s impeachment trial, which would require senators in the race to return to Washington.

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