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We have watched the polls shift dramatically in Iowa over the past 6 months. Mitt Romney has always had a reasonably strong footing there until Bachmann, Perry, Cain, and now Gingrich and Paul have whittled away his lead. A new poll out from Bloomberg Tuesday shows a four-way race for Iowa:

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Herman Cain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are in a dead heat as the top choices for Iowans likely to attend the Jan. 3 Republican presidential caucuses.

A Bloomberg News poll shows Cain at 20 percent, Paul at 19 percent, Romney at 18 percent and Gingrich at 17 percent among the likely attendees with the caucuses that start the nominating contests seven weeks away.

Economic issues such as jobs, taxes and government spending are driving voter sentiment, rather than such social issues as abortion and gay marriage, the poll finds. Only about a quarter of likely caucus-goers say social or constitutional issues are more important to them, compared with 71 percent who say fiscal concerns.

The poll reflects the race’s fluidity, with 60 percent of respondents saying they still could be persuaded to back someone other than their top choice, and 10 percent undecided. Paul’s support is more solidified than his rivals, while Cain’s is softer. All of the major contenders have issue challenges to address.

A Romney win in Iowa would be huge for him in that it would start to set in motion a fairly easy path to the nomination. However, should any of the 3 others in contention take an Iowa victory, the process will be extended and certainly culminate in a fight for South Carolina, assuming Romney wins New Hampshire, and the later contests. Even if Romney were to win Iowa and New Hampshire, South Carolina is an entirely different ballgame. Clearly Cain, Gingrich and Paul would have a home field advantage in the South compared to Romney.

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Nate Ashworth is the Founder and Senior Editor of Election Central. He's been blogging elections and politics for almost a decade. He started covering the 2008 Presidential Election which turned into a full-time political blog in 2012 and 2016.

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