(CNN) - The early waves of entrance polling are indicating that close to 60 percent of Democratic caucus goers are women. Like the Republicans, a third are over the age of 65, and 80 percent are over the age of 45. They rank the war in Iraq as their top issue of concern, followed closely by the economy and healthcare. Two -thirds decided on their candidate over a month ago.
–CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider
(CNN)– The first wave of our entrance polling is showing us what we expected in both fields. Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee are in a tight race on the GOP side and Hillary Clinton is holding a narrow edge over Barack Obama and John Edwards on the Democratic side. These are just entrance polls, however, and the numbers are extremely fluid.
Our first waves of entrance polling is giving us insight into who these caucus-goers are tonight.
On the Repbulican side, a third are over 65, and nearly 75 percent are over the age of 45. There are slightly more men than women, and more than 60 percent decided on their candidate more than a month ago. A third name Immigration their top issue, followed by the economy and terrorism.
The numbers also show a heavy turnout amongst evangelical Christians - over 60 percent.
–CNN Senior Political Analyst Schneider
DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) – As caucuses around Iowa began, the mood at the campaign headquarters of GOP candidate Mike Huckabee was prayerful.
An evangelical prayer group of eight people held hands in the middle of an otherwise rather empty ballroom and prayed for about 20 minutes here just now.
The group was led by Rebekah Swicegood, a home-schooled 22-year-old music teacher from Lowell, Arkansas, where Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister, once served as governor.
Swicegood and others in the group surrounded a Huckabee campaign sign as she uttered a fast-paced prayer about a mile a minute. Barely taking a breath, Swicegood prayed for "a man who will lead our nation back to you, Lord."
Other highlights of the prayer session included:
- "He’s not going to say, 'well maybe abortion is OK.'"
- “It’s not OK for man to be married to a man - or a woman to be married to a woman."
- "When Rome got to the point of accepting sodomy, they fell"
The tiny group of worshippers capped off the moment by singing “God Bless America.”
Afterwards, when asked by CNN what drew Swicegood’s group to gather at Huckabee headquarters to pray, she said, “Because I know this is not controlled by people we can call, or by people who vote, it’s controlled by God in heaven and earth."
– CNN’s Dana Bash
(CNN) - I’ll be doing on-air “analysis” for CNN through the evening. In preparation, I‘ve been doing what I’ve always done as a reporter when I’m not out talking to people in person - working the phones. Usually I do that in my office in midtown Manhattan, a private and reasonably commodious outpost. But I haven’t done it from a newsroom (a huge one in the case of CNN’s New York operations) in a long time, and I must say it’s a nice feeling to be in a sea of reporters and editors and folks running around with the urgency that daily journalism demands, especially on a big story, which the Iowa caucuses– justifiably or not - have become.
(What seems unjustifiable is the disproportionate role of Iowa and New Hampshire in picking the President of the United States, an anomaly that ought to end after this year’s circus: No matter how diligent the citizens of these two small states - and they tends towards diligent-plus in these matters - the outsized role of two tiny provinces and their tiny populations is certainly is not the what ‘One-person, One-vote’ was supposed to mean…..Another subject for another day, but definitely part of the bizarre dynamic of whatever occurs tonight.)
(CNN) - As he made a last-minute push for votes in Des Moines, Barack Obama was still finding Iowans curious about e-mailed rumors about his religion – or, for one voter, his alleged lack of one.
Zanata Moore-El asked Obama if he was an atheist.
"I'm a member of the Trinity United Church of Christ," Obama said. "Don't read e-mails."
Obama is a Christian, but e-mails speculating on his religious views, including his Muslim heritage, are still circulating despite being discredited.
"I hated having to ask him that," Moore-El told a reporter. "But I heard he was like an atheist. I don't want a president who's an atheist. I'm a firm believer in God. I just really wanted to make sure because I really wanted to vote for him and he has some good topics and everything."
– CNN Associate Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand
(CNN) – Joe Biden is definitely a part of the conversation out in Iowa. Quite honestly, it seems to me that he doesn't have a hard time convincing voters that he is the best candidate for the job - the tough task is convincing folks that he is viable. But his camp seems confident that this is where their large group of legislators and party chairs will bring it home for them. Once they get into those rooms on caucus night, they say, they will see all the others for Biden - and between that and professional organizers doing their thing, they will bring it home to fourth place or higher.
–CNN's Donna Brazile
(CNN) - Ironically, I think the most brilliant thing any Democratic campaign has done is the work that Sen. Clinton's team has done - intentionally or not - to lower expectations. If she wins tonight, it's an upset almost; she's the only of the majors who can survive third place. She has a great team on the ground led by the former governor and presidential candidate Tom Vilsack.
(CNN) – If Obama wins, he will likely do so on the strength of a broad coalition - Democrats and Independents, people new to the process, young and old. This will enable him to start settling "the electability" argument right away, and to move harder on experience.
(CNN) - Tonight, we should pay attention to how well Edwards and Huckabee do. They've made Iowa somewhat of a referendum on populism. Virtually any result is interesting: if either wins Iowa with a populist message, the remaining members of the field have to move in their direction to pre-empt. If Huckabee wins, his victory is complicated, but it will speak volumes about the lack of an economic message in the rest of the GOP field at a time when the country is poised on the edge of a recession. If both lose, it is fascinating since Iowa is prime turf for it, and the country is hurting economically. It will mean that people don't see it as a viable answer to address kitchen table issues.