For months, the candidates who want to be the next U.S. president have been campaigning and debating as they try to convince voters that no one is better suited for the job. A week from Monday, voters in Iowa will finally get the first chance to give a tangible result to the race.
The February 1 Iowa caucuses kick off a process in which each state will vote, leading to the Democratic and Republican parties naming their candidate at conventions in July.
The latest polls indicate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is just about tied with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in Iowa. Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley is far behind.
On the Republican side, billionaire Donald Trump and Texas Senator Ted Cruz are far ahead of the rest of the field of 12. Polls from the last week give Trump the edge.
There have been concerns among Republicans that if Trump is not chosen as the party’s nominee, he might run an independent campaign and take a chunk of Republican voters with him.
But it is Democrats who are potentially facing that scenario, with former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg saying last week he is considering an independent bid in the November election.
The Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent has liberal views on such issues as gun control, abortion rights and immigration, putting him in line with Democrats.
Clinton appeared unconcerned about a Bloomberg run as she appeared on NBC television's Meet the Press.
"The way I read what he said is if I didn't get the nomination, he might consider (running). Well, I'm going to relieve him of that and get the nomination so he doesn't have to,” Clinton said.
Sanders expressed displeasure about the possibility of another wealthy presidential contender.
Bloomberg, like Trump, is a billionaire, having earned his fortune in the media.
"This is not what, to my view, American democracy is supposed to be about, a contest between billionaires. If that takes place, I am confident that we will win it," Sanders said on ABC's This Week program.