CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) -

Iowa voters used to consistently support Republican presidential candidates, but ever since the late 1980s the state has been leading toward Democrats.

The Gazette in Cedar Rapids reports Iowans chose Democratic candidates in six of the last seven races. But Iowa supported Republicans in all but five elections between the Civil War and 1988.

Experts say the voting shift is a reflection of the changing demographics of Iowa. The state is becoming more urban and better educated.

But that doesn't mean Iowa will become a solid blue state because the state's demographics may shift again, and Republicans may find new ways to appeal to Iowans.

And Iowa will continue to have a significant political impact as long as it holds the first caucus in the nation.