DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Mitt Romney, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum are locked in a tense, three-way struggle for supremacy in Iowa's Republican presidential caucuses.
Returns from 538 of 1,774 precincts show Romney, Santorum and Paul each with 23 percent, separated by only 57 votes.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich had 13 percent, followed by Rick Perry with 10 percent, and Michele Bachmann with 6 percent.
The winner is in line for bragging rights -- and perhaps much more -- as the Republican nominating campaign makes the turn to primaries in New Hampshire on Jan. 10, followed by South Carolina and Florida before month's end.
For some of the also-rans, history suggests the first event of the year might also be their last.
The economy and the federal budget deficit are top issues, judged more important than abortion or health care, according to a survey of early caucus-goers by Edison Media Research.