With days to go before the Iowa caucuses, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is surging to a statistical dead heat with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul, according to a new Newsmax/InsiderAdvantage poll.
The Iowa contest is now in “total and complete chaos, ” declares Insider Advantage chief pollster Matt Towery, who says this weekend’s final campaign push will be decisive.
Insider Advantage polled 429 registered Republicans on Wednesday who are likely to vote in the Jan. 3 caucuses.
“It’s almost as if we’re starting all over again and the weekend is going to decide who wins Iowa.”
The Newsmax/InsiderAdvantage poll shows Gingrich, Romney, and Paul in a statistical tie, with each getting 17 percent support of likely GOP voters in Iowa.
The top three candidates are followed by former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum with 13 percent support; Rep. Michele Bachmann at 12 percent; Texas Gov. Rick Perry, 11 percent; and former Utah Gov. and Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman with 3 percent — statistically tied in last place with an unnamed candidate.
The poll revealed that 7 percent of voters still had no opinion or were undecided, with an overall margin for error of 4.7 percent.
“I think we’re saying that the race has become so tight that it’s not only hard to predict the winner, it’s hard to predict who might emerge from among the second tier,” said Towery, whose final Iowa poll has never failed to predict the eventual winner.
This year’s final Newsmax/InsiderAdvantage poll will be conducted on Jan. 1 and released on Jan. 2.
Towery labeled as “nonsense” reports that any single candidate has locked up a victory in the Iowa caucuses as of today.
“They’re absolutely packed together,” Towery told Newsmax. “I suspect that the various campaigns know that because they’ve been so into wanting to fight each other and blast each other. That really is not the way you win Iowa. I think they’ve been realizing that this is such a bloodbath because they’re all so close that they are really doing everything they can to try and get through this.”
Although considerable attention has been paid to Iowa’s undecided voters, Towery said he doesn’t see the undecided voters figuring prominently in the home stretch.
Candidates more likely will have to focus on taking votes from each other.
“There’s not a whole lot more room that they can get from the undecided. They have to get it primarily from each other,” Towery acknowledged. “They’re trying to pick little small segments of support away from each other.”
The Newsmax/InsiderAdvantage poll also shows that Gingrich has more broad-based support from both men and women than the other candidates, while Romney polls stronger among women than his rivals, and Paul enjoys a similar advantage among men.
“Gingrich’s problem is he is not appealing to seniors who are 65 and over,” Towery explained, noting that Gingrich polls best among 35- to 45-year-olds. “It has been consistent in every single poll that I’ve taken. He needs to find a way to reach out to older voters.”
Towery sees this as both a positive and negative for Gingrich, because voters 45 and over heavily influence the Iowa caucuses.
“Romney really needs some help among the male vote if he wants to win,” Towery said.
Other recent polls showed Romney in the lead, but many final Iowa polls in 2008 also had Romney winning there. In fact, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee soundly defeated Romney.
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