DES MOINES. — US Republican presidential candidate front-runner Donald Trump was set to put his precedent-shattering campaign to the test yesterday when Iowa voters begin the nationwide process of choosing a new US president, as polls show a tight battle with Ted Cruz that could hinge on turnout and a large bloc of undecided voters.
On the Democratic side, front-runner Hillary Clinton also faces a stiff challenge in Iowa from insurgent Bernie Sanders in the first contest in the state-by-state battle to pick candidates for the November 8 election to succeed President Barack Obama.
Late opinion polls showed Trump, a blunt-spoken billionaire businessman who has never before sought public office, with a small lead on Cruz, a conservative US senator from Texas. Clinton had a slight edge on Sanders, a US senator from Vermont.
But there was no certainty on who would turn up at the caucuses, or how successful Trump and Sanders would be at getting participation from supporters, many of who are new to the process and disenchanted with traditional politics. Adding to the unpredictability in Iowa was a large bloc of undecided or persuadable voters in both parties. People in the state are accustomed to a long courtship from candidates and are traditionally in no rush to make a commitment.
The caucuses will be the first time Trump, a real estate mogul and former reality TV star, has put his appeal to the test.
A win could validate an aggressive campaign that has alarmed many in the Republican establishment, dwarfed the campaigns of many seasoned politicians and has been marked by controversies such as his calls for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States and for a wall along the Mexican border. It would put him in a strong position for later nominating contests. — Reuters.