Newt Bubble Bursting? Iowa Poll Shows Drop, Romney Leading

Politics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 15, 2011   |   12:07PM   |   Washington, DC

Newt Gingrich quickly rose to the top of the polls following the exit of pro-life businessman Herman Cain from the Republican presidential race, but his sudden rise to the top made him the new punching bag.

With other candidates focusing their criticism on Gingrich, his polling numbers have already dropped in Iowa — the first battleground state where GOP voters will head to the polls to cast ballots in the race to replace pro-abortion President Barack Obama.

For the fifth straight survey, the GOP field has a new frontrunner in Iowa, according to a new Rasmussen Reports poll out today. Pollster Scott Rasmussen reveals Mitt Romney as the new frontrunner in the Iowa Caucus.

Romney leads the field with the support of 23 percent of Republicans while Gingrich has dropped to 20 percent from his 32 percent standing on November 15. Romney upped his level of support from 19-23 percent.

Ron Paul comes in third place with the backing of 18 percent of Iowa voters and Rick Perry comes in fourth with 10 percent — a bump from the single digits he was in during October and November. Michele Bachmann receives the support of 9 percent, those who are undecided come in at 8 percent, Rick Santorum receives 6 percent, and Jon Huntsman 5 percent.

“This is the fifth consecutive monthly poll with a new leader,” Rasmussen says. “It was Bachmann in August, then Perry, Cain, and Gingrich.  Amidst all the volatility, Romney’s numbers have held steady each month, and Ron Paul has been in double digits each month.”

With 40 percent of Iowa voters saying they are not settled on a candidate, the race could still shift in the coming weeks.

Byron York, a conservative columnist for the Washington Examiners newspaper, put the new polling data into perspective.

“In the new survey, every candidate but Gingrich gained support in the last few weeks. The biggest gainers were Romney, up four points; Paul, up eight points; and Perry, up four points.  Michele Bachmann climbed three points, as did Jon Huntsman, who has been to Iowa a grand total of one time in the campaign,” he noted. “Gingrich, on the other hand, fell 12 points.” [related]

“In mostly private conversations, well-connected Iowa Republicans say they have sensed a drop-off in support for Gingrich in the last few days,” York noted. “”People are saying OK, let’s reassess this,” one insider says of voter opinion on Gingrich. “Is this really a decision we want to make?  What I’m hearing is thinking about the general election and the unpredictable nature of him as our nominee.  I don’t have any empirical data to back it up, but it’s just a feeling I’ve gotten in the last 24 hours. Now, there is that empirical data.”

“Gingrich has been the target of a barrage of attack ads on Iowa television and radio, particularly from Paul, Romney, and Perry.  The consensus among Iowa GOP insiders is that those ads are beginning to take a toll,” he said.

The survey of 750 Likely Iowa Republican Caucus Participants was conducted on December 13, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.