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CNN Poll Has Romney Leading in Iowa, Rick Santorum Surging

by Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 12/28/11 6:14 PM

National, Politics

A new CNN poll of the Republican presidential candidates in Iowa, the state leading off the GOP presidential campaign next week, shows 25 percent of Iowa voters support Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum is surging.

The former Massachusetts governor is ahead with Congressman Ron Paul of Texas in second with 22 percent. Santorum, the pro-life former Pennsylvania senator, comes in third with 16 percent — well above the 5 percent he polled in the state in the CNN survey in November. Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker, places fourth with 14 percent of the vote.

“In Iowa, both Romney and Paul are each up five points among likely caucus goers from a CNN/Time/ORC poll conducted at the start of December,” CNN reports. “he new survey indicates that Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania, is at 16% support, up 11 points from the beginning of the month, with Gingrich at 14%, down from 33% in the previous poll. Since Gingrich’s rise late last month and early this month in both national and early voting state surveys, he’s come under attack by many of the rival campaigns.”

“Santorum is campaigning on a shoestring budget, but he’s visited all of Iowa’s 99 counties and has made a strong pitch towards social conservative voters, who are very influential here in Iowa on the Republican side. Wednesday Santorum was up with a new radio spot on Hawkeye State airwaves touting endorsements by social conservative leaders. His pitch may be starting to pay off,” CNN indicated.

CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said: “Most of Santorum’s gains have come among likely caucus participants who are born-again or evangelical, and he now tops the list among that crucial voting bloc, with support from 22% of born-agains compared to 18% for Paul, 16% for Romney, and 14% for Gingrich.”

“Santorum and Paul may benefit from lower turnout, since they have an edge over Romney among likely voters who say that ‘nothing at all’ would prevent them from attending the caucus,” says Holland. “On the other hand, Romney appears to have an edge among those who attended the caucuses four years ago – he did finish in second place in 2008 – and Romney does best among older Iowans.”

The survey shows 11% are backing Texas Gov. Rick Perry, 9% are supporting Rep Michele Bachmann, and 1% are backing former Utah Gov. and former ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, who’s spending nearly all his time campaigning in New Hampshire.

The CNN poll also covered New Hampshire, where Romney is still far ahead of his rivals.

He’s supported by 44% of likely GOP primary voters, up nine points from earlier this month. Paul is at 17%, with Gingrich at 16%, down ten points from early December. Huntsman, who’s hoping for a strong finish in the Granite State, is at 9%, with Santorum at 4%, Bachmann at 3%, and Perry at 2%.

Looking at the new results, Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner says they help Romney the most.

“At this point, any of these outcomes (a Romney win, Paul win or late Santorum surge) all play into Romney’s hands, because Paul is unacceptable to large swaths of the GOP electorate and Santorum lacks the resources to compete seriously beyond Iowa,” he notes. “A number of people have noted that the Iowa poll only surveyed registered Republicans in Iowa, but the state allows citizens to change their registration at the polling site, so independents and Democrats are allowed to vote. The turnout of these crossover voters can make a big difference in the outcome of the caucuses, because Paul polls best among these voters, while Santorum does not poll well.”