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Undecided Voters Make for 'Wide Open' Iowa Race

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AP

In what may be an anomaly in Iowa caucus history, voters are still flitting from candidate to candidate in the final days of the race. 

The number of undecided caucus-goers, along with the much larger number of Iowans who are leaning toward a candidate but say they could change their mind, suggests the results on Tuesday night could look dramatically different from any poll today. The polls over the past two weeks alone reflect an ever-shifting dynamic. 

For the candidates at the front or on the rise, they hope the trends hold. For those at the back or on the decline, they point to the contest's erratic narrative -- one which has heralded six frontrunners in four months -- in arguing there's still a chance to turn things around. 

"This race is wide open," Newt Gingrich told Fox News Friday. 

The former House speaker, who has slid in several polls from first place to as far back as fifth, told Fox News that while he's reeling from negative advertising against him, Iowans' minds are not made up. 

"I think that maybe as much as half of the people who walk in next Tuesday night will either not yet have made a decision or will be very lightly attached to their decision," Gingrich said. "And the conversations in the caucuses, I think, are going to make a big difference." 

A caucus is not as clean-cut of a process as a primary, and Iowans who walk in intending to pick one candidate could be persuaded to back another. 

A Rasmussen Reports poll this week reported that 41 percent of likely caucus goers claim they could change their minds before Tuesday. Another 6 percent were completely undecided. 

An NBC News-Marist poll put the undecided number at 7 percent. Among likely voters backing a particular candidate, 13 percent said they might vote differently on Tuesday -- reflecting a smaller percentage than in the Rasmussen poll, but one that could still make a difference in a race where the candidates are a few points apart at the top. 

Most polls show Mitt Romney and Ron Paul leading, with former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Gingrich and recently Rick Perry in the next tier. 

Perry told Fox News on Friday that he still aims to win on Tuesday, though his campaign has long since lost the frontrunner luster it carried following his high-profile summertime entrance into the race. 

"I'm gonna feel good about our performance regardless of where we come in in Iowa. We expect to do well here," Perry said, once again stressing his "outsider" credentials. 

Tim Albrecht, spokesman for Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, said the indecision in Iowa is unusual. 

"They still haven't made up their minds, so as to how it's going to turn out on Tuesday is anyone's guess," he told Fox News. "All of these candidates have attractive attributes that have led Iowans to them at certain points in time."

He said the campaigns at this point just have to concentrate on bringing out supporters. 

"There are going to be three tickets out of Iowa," Albrecht said. "I think a case can be made for all six to get one of those three tickets. But ultimately it's all about turnout, turnout, turnout right now."