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First Voting Set To Begin In Iowa Caucuses


And we're getting closer to having an idea of how this will all go. The first votes in this 2016 presidential contest will be cast in just a matter of minutes. The caucuses start in less than half an hour. We're going to go live now to NPR's Susan Davis who's at a Republican caucus site in in Urbandale, Iowa. Susan, can you hear me?

SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: Hey, Audie. How are you?

CORNISH: Good. I want you to start by describing the scene right now and what you expect to be seeing when the caucuses start at the top of the hour.

DAVIS: (Unintelligible) I'm actually - and I'm not making this up. I'm in a tornado saferoom.


DAVIS: So (laughter) that is where the local precinct here is in Urbandale. It's a Republican caucus site. There's about 200 or 300 people gathered in a room. The last caucus-goers are gathering just now. And right at the top of the hour, all of the candidates are going to have surrogates speak for them. They have up to five minutes. And then, they - with Republicans, they do it very different than Democrats. They're just going to do one round of balloting, and then they're going to be done.

Now, we're - a couple of surrogates that are coming in tonight - Governor - Maine Governor Paul LePage is going to be here to speak on behalf of his friend Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey. We have a staff - a campaign staffer here speaking on behalf of Ben Carson who used to be an aide to Senator Ted Cruz. And what you can tell is he feels fairly confident about this (inaudible). Florida Senator Marco Rubio - going to be showing up in about half an hour, 40 minutes to speak on his own behalf.

CORNISH: And as you said, people are already gathered in the space. What are you hearing from some of the voters there?

DAVIS: So this area of the state is a swing precinct. So it's going to be very competitive in November, but now in this Republican caucus, this is what I would describe as a fairly mainstream establishment kind of conservative vote. It's the kind of precinct that a candidate like Marco Rubio has to do really well in if he's going to have a chance to have a strong finish here tonight in Iowa and also a place like Chris Christie. I think you can see in the room, there's a lot of Rubio supporters. There's a lot of Christie supporters - a little bit of Cruz, a little bit of Carson and probably what you would describe as more of an establishment candidate stronghold.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Susan Davis at a Republican caucus site in Urbandale, Iowa. The Iowa caucuses begin at 7 Central Time. That's 8 o'clock Eastern Time. Susan, we'll talk to you soon.

DAVIS: Hey. Good to talk. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Susan Davis is a congressional correspondent for NPR and a co-host of the NPR Politics Podcast. She has covered Congress, elections, and national politics since 2002 for publications including USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal, National Journal and Roll Call. She appears regularly on television and radio outlets to discuss congressional and national politics, and she is a contributor on PBS's Washington Week with Robert Costa. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Philadelphia native.