As the first step in deciding nominees for the 2008 United States presidential elections, the Iowa caucus has always been known as a pivotal event for each White House hopeful. In fact, candidates have been targeting almost all of their campaign energy in Iowa for the past month, as results here set the precedent by which other states will make their own voting decisions.

Tonight, Iowans will gather in locations throughout the state to discuss and debate candidate support prior to making their nomination decisions.

Meanwhile, the rest of the nation can follow caucus events simply by pointing their browsers to our new Iowa caucus map on Google Maps. The map displays live news and events from across the state, and beginning tonight, both the Democratic and Republican parties of Iowa will be partnering with us to present real-time caucus results by county and by party. Users across America will be able to watch a stream of results show up on Google Maps at the same time as these important decisions in Iowa are being made.

To view more caucus coverage, check out our latest post on the Official Google Blog highlighting an Iowa Caucus YouTube channel, the recently launched Elections section of Google News, and our very own Elections 2008 iGoogle gadget.