Caucuses begin across Iowa

January 3, 2012 - 9:06 PM

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa caucuses are beginning, the first nominating contest launching the presidential election cycle.

Caucuses opened at 1,774 precincts in Iowa at 7 p.m. CST Tuesday.

Candidates have competed fiercely for votes.

Iowa Republicans will technically select their delegates to the GOP convention later. But victory in the caucuses — or at least exceeding expectations — will help define the path to the nomination for the Republican field.

Republican voters will have the opportunity to speak in support of candidates before ballots are passed out. Participants mark their choices privately.