POLITICS

Early Iowa caucus-goers favor Romney, Paul, Santorum

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - As the Iowa caucuses begin, an entrance survey of early arrivers is giving clues about the priorities of Republican voters.

About a third said they most wanted a candidate who can defeat President Barack Obama. About a quarter said selecting a true conservative was most important. Slightly more than one in five of those who completed the survey questionnaire said the most important factor for them is backing a candidate with strong moral character.

The economy and the federal budget deficit are top issues for caucus attendees -- more than abortion or health care.

The survey by Edison Media Research for The Associated Press and TV networks is based on interviews with more than 600 people arriving at nearly 40 precinct caucuses across Iowa.

The survey suggests that Mitt Romney, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum are in the top tier of vote getters. 

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