Businessman Herman Cain and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney are in a statistical tie for the most support among Republicans in Iowa, where the presidential nomination contests start Jan. 3, a poll shows.
The Iowa Poll, conducted by the Des Moines Register newspaper, shows Cain with the support of 23 percent of likely caucus participants and Romney backed by 22 percent.
Texas Governor Rick Perry has considerable work to do in Iowa, the poll shows, if he wants to regain his standing in the race. Perry has support from 7 percent of likely caucus-goers in the poll, trailing Representative Ron Paul of Texas at 12 percent. Besides Cain and Romney, Paul was the only other Republican candidate to exceed 10 percent.
“The people at the top are not the people who have been spending a lot of time in the state,” said J. Ann Selzer, president of Des Moines, Iowa-based Selzer & Co., which conducted the poll and also administers the Bloomberg National Poll. “You don’t see the importance of a ground game play out until closer to the time of the caucuses.”
Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota recorded 8 percent support in the poll, virtually tied with 7 percent for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia.
Bachmann said she wasn’t “worried about the day-to-day snapshots.”
“I’m doing exactly what I need to do in Iowa,” Bachmann said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week with Christiane Amanpour” program. “I’m here all across the state, meeting with people multiple times every day.”
Paul said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program that he has “no intention” of running as a third party candidate.
Former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who has spent more time in Iowa than any other candidate, stood at 5 percent. Former Utah Governor John Huntsman Jr., who is not actively competing in Iowa, found support among 1 percent.
The poll was conducted Oct. 23-26 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.
Perry, 61, led national polls in the Republican race just five weeks ago. Since then, his standing in surveys has dropped by as much as 20 percentage points, after debate performances he acknowledged were mediocre and as Cain gained ground.
“We’ve got a great debater, a smooth politician in the White House right now,” Perry said on the “Fox News Sunday” program. “That’s not working out very good for America.”
Perry has agreed to participate in five more debates this year.
“Heck I may actually be a good debater by the end of this,” Perry said on the Fox program today.
If Perry is to regain momentum, his surge most likely will have to start in Iowa, where the lead-off caucuses begin the 2012 presidential nominating process. Perry is scheduled to spend at least two days in Iowa during the next week. He has also started running television ads in the state.
Romney, 64, is taking a below-the-radar approach to Iowa and is seeking to manage expectations for himself in the state.
In his 2008 presidential bid, after an all-out effort to win the caucuses, he finished second behind former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. Social conservatives who dominate the Republican caucuses balked at Romney’s past support of abortion rights and a Massachusetts health-care law he signed, and his caucus loss helped derail his candidacy.
This election season, those conservatives have yet to rally around a contender, creating the prospect that they could divide their support among all the other candidates and create an opening for Romney.
For all his gains in the polls, Cain, 65, has scant organization in Iowa -- traditionally a prerequisite for a strong caucus showing. He made his first visit to the state in more than two months a week ago.
“I believe that I’m doing so well because I’m connecting with the people,” Cain said on CBS “Face the Nation.” “Americans want to feel proud again and they don’t feel that pride right now.”
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