The day before Republicans head to the Iowa caucus to cast the first votes in the GOP race to replace pro-abortion President Barack Obama, new polling data shows the race is a virtual tie.
No Republican candidate is running away with the contest in Iowa, according to a new survey conducted by the PPP polling firm. The survey shows former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum are all within two percent of each other in the Hawkeye state.
Paul leads with 20 percent of the vote to 19 percent for Romney and 18 percent for Santorum. However, while Paul and Romney have largely retained the support they have had in recent weeks, Santorum has doubled his and the momentum gives him a chance to carry the first state and build momentum leading into New Hampshire and South Carolina — both states where Romney currently leads.
“The momentum in the race is completely on Santorum’s side. He’s moved up 8 points since a PPP poll earlier in the week, while no one else has seen more than a one point gain in their support,” PPP notes. “Among voters who say they decided who to vote for in the last seven days he leads Romney 29-17 with Paul and Gingrich both at 13.”
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who led the Republican race weeks ago, has fallen all the way to 14 percent in the new PPP survey, Texas Gov. Rick Perry gets 10 percent and Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman are in single digits.
“Santorum’s net favorability of 60/30 makes him easily the most popular candidate in the field. No one else’s favorability exceeds 52%,” PPP notes. “He may also have more room to grow in the final 48 hours of the campaign than the other front runners: 14% of voters say he’s their second choice to 11% for Romney and only 8% for Paul.”
“Santorum’s taken the lead with two key groups of Republican voters: with Tea Partiers he’s at 23% to 18% for Gingrich, 16% for Paul, 15% for Bachmann, and only 12% for Romney. And with Evangelicals he’s at 24% to 16% for Gingrich, and 15% for Paul and Romney,” the polling firm continues.
Meanwhile, a new poll conducted by the Insider Advantage polling firm has Romney leading with 23 percent of the Republican vote in Iowa. Paul comes in second with 22 percent, then Santorum 18 percent, Gingrich 16 percent, Perry 10%, and Bachmann at 6 and Huntsman 2.
That survey shows Paul leading with younger voters while older GOP voters favor Romney, Santorum and Gingrich. Women also prefer those three candidates to Paul while men prefer Paul as their number one candidate.
Iowa Republicans support Romney, Santorum and then Gingrich while GOP-leaning independents and Democrats favored Paul.