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Republican Ted Cruz vaults into first place in new Iowa poll

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Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz has taken the lead in the early-voting state of Iowa, surpassing both Donald Trump, who holds the lead in most national surveys, and Ben Carson, who has scored strongly in the state in recent months, according to a Monmouth University poll released on Monday.

The poll of likely caucus-goers in Iowa, which in February 2016 will hold the first contest in the Republican presidential nomination process, Cruz had the support of 24 percent.

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That marked a jump from the 10 percent of caucus-goers who supported Cruz in October and 9 percent in August. Trump was in second place with 19 percent, followed by Marco Rubio with 17 percent and Ben Carson at 13 percent.

Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas, has benefited from a decline in support for Carson. Both Republicans have a strong base of support with evangelical voters, who make up a large bloc among likely caucus-goers in Iowa.

But Carson has seen his poll numbers drop amid missteps in some of his comments about national security in the aftermath of the attacks in San Bernardino, California and Paris.

As recently as October, Carson was leading in the Monmouth poll, with the support of 32 percent of caucus-goers. In August, he was tied with Trump at 23 percent.

The poll surveyed 425 likely Iowa caucus-goers and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.8 percent.

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(Reporting by Alana Wise; Editing by Alan Crosby)


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Elections 2016

Vietnamese women strive to clear war-era mines

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Inching across a field littered with Vietnam war-era bombs, Ngoc leads an all-women demining team clearing unexploded ordnance that has killed tens of thousands of people -- including her uncle.

"He died in an explosion. I was haunted by memories of him," Le Thi Bich Ngoc tells AFP as she oversees the controlled detonation of a cluster bomb found in a sealed-off site in central Quang Tri province.

More than 6.1 million hectares of land in Vietnam remain blanketed by unexploded munitions -- mainly dropped by US bombers -- decades after the war ended in 1975.

At least 40,000 Vietnamese have since died in related accidents. Victims are often farmers who accidentally trigger explosions, people salvaging scrap metal, or children who mistake bomblets for toys.

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Elections 2016

Chief Justice John Roberts issues New Year’s Eve warning to stand up for democracy

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In a progressive welcoming move, Chief Justice John Roberts issued his New Year's Eve annual report urging his fellow federal judges to stand up for democracy.

"In our age, when social media can instantly spread rumor and false information on a grand scale, the public's need to understand our government, and the protections it provides, is ever more vital," he wrote. "We should celebrate our strong and independent judiciary, a key source of national unity and stability."

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Trump’s next 100 days will dictate whether he can be re-elected or not — here’s why

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According to CNN pollster-in-residence Harry Enten, Donald Trump's next 100 days -- which could include an impeachment trial in the Senate -- will hold the key to whether he will remain president in 2020.

As Eten explains in a column for CNN, "His [Trump's] approval rating has been consistently low during his first term. Yet his supporters could always point out that approval ratings before an election year have not historically been correlated with reelection success. But by mid-March of an election year, approval ratings, though, become more predictive. Presidents with low approval ratings in mid-March of an election year tend to lose, while those with strong approval ratings tend to win in blowouts and those with middling approval ratings usually win by small margins."

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