Raleigh, N.C. – The Republican caucus in Iowa is headed for a photo finish, with the
three leading contenders all within two points of each other. Ron Paul is at 20%, Mitt
Romney at 19%, and Rick Santorum at 18%. Rounding out the field are Newt Gingrich at
14%, Rick Perry at 10%, Michele Bachmann at 8%, Jon Huntsman at 4%, and Buddy
Roemer at 2%.
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. 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. Santorum’s net
favorability of 60/30 makes him easily the most popular candidate in the field. No one
else’s favorability exceeds 52%. 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.
Other than Santorum’s rise the other big story of this week is Paul’s fall. He was at 24%
earlier in the week but has dropped to 20%. That decline in support coincides with a
precipitous drop in his favorability numbers. On our last poll he was at +13 (53/40), but
that’s gone down 21 points on the margin to -8 (43/51). For all that Paul still has a very
decent chance at winning on Tuesday- it just depends on whether his unusual coalition of
young voters and non-Republicans really comes out to caucus. Mitt Romney leads with
the more traditional caucus demographics of senior citizens and registered Republicans.
“It’s impossible to say who’s going to win Tuesday night,” said Dean Debnam, President
of Public Policy Polling. “If you think momentum will be the most important factor that’s
an argument for Santorum. If you think having the most passionate supporters will be the
most important factor that’s an argument for Paul. And if you think the ability to beat
Barack Obama will be the most important factor that’s an argument for Romney.”
PPP surveyed 1,340 likely Republican caucus voters on December 31st and January 1st.
The margin of error for the survey is +/-2.7%. This poll was not paid for or authorized by
any campaign or political organization. PPP surveys are conducted through automated
telephone interviews. PPP is a Democratic polling company, but polling expert Nate
Silver of the New York Times found that its surveys in 2010 actually exhibited a slight
bias toward Republican candidates.