Don GonyeaDon Gonyea is a NPR National Political Correspondent based in Washington, D.C., and travels throughout the United States covering elections and the country's political climate. His reports can be heard on all NPR programs and at NPR.org.
On Jan. 3, Iowans will caucus at 1,774 precincts across the state, in the first contest of the 2012 presidential nominating process. Above, Iowans caucus in 2004 at St. John's United Methodist Church in Des Moines, Precinct 87.
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Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks Tuesday at the Lincoln Cafe in Belle Plaine, Iowa. Among GOP candidates, Santorum had the state to himself on Tuesday.
Chris Carlson/Associated Press
Republican presidential candidates former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich squared off in the ABC debate in Des Moines, Iowa, Saturday night.
Newt Gingrich, whose run for president nearly derailed earlier this year when many of his top staffers quit, now sits atop the polls. As a result, his campaign organization is growing. Here, he arrives at a town hall meeting last week in Staten Island, N.Y.
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Republican presidential candidates Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former CEO of Godfather's Pizza Herman Cain talk after a forum sponsored by The Family Leader Saturday. Both men let their emotions show during the roundtable.
GOP presidential candidates (from left) former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Rep. Michele Bachmann, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, businessman Herman Cain, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Rep. Ron Paul, and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, pose before a GOP presidential debate at Oakland University in Auburn Hills, Mich., on Wednesday.
Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell delivers remarks at the Tea Party Express rally in 2010. Some say Republicans threw away votes by nominating ultra-conservative O'Donnell.
Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern greets young admirers in his home state at an airport rally in Sioux Falls, S.D., in 1972. Many baby boomers voted for McGovern in their first election, against Republican candidate Richard Nixon. In 2008, boomers narrowly backed President Barack Obama, but they swung over to Republicans in 2010.