Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, has jumped into the lead in Iowa just two weeks before the state’s caucuses. Public Policy Polling
(PPP) reports that Paul now leads with 23 percent, followed by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at 20 percent and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich at 14 percent.
Nonetheless, 25 percent of voters think Romney has the best chance to defeat President Barack Obama, compared with 17 percent for Gingrich and 16 percent for Paul.
Tied at 10 percent, in the main poll, are former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman is at 4 percent, and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, who announced last week that he’s running as a Libertarian, is at 2 percent.
“Ron Paul has taken the lead, but it will be interesting to see if he can turn out his unique base of voters for the caucus,” said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling. “If any of the second-tier candidates see their supporters abandon them in the final two weeks, Mitt Romney is the most likely beneficiary and it could propel him to the win.”
Gingrich’s Iowa campaign is “rapidly imploding,” PPP’s analysis said.
“Gingrich has now seen a big drop in his Iowa standing two weeks in a row,” the poll reported. “His share of the vote has gone from 27 percent to 22 percent to 14 percent. And there's been a large drop in his personal favorability numbers as well from +31 (62/31) to +12 (52/40) to now -1 (46/47).
“Negative ads over the last few weeks have really chipped away at Gingrich's image as being a strong conservative — now only 36 percent of voters believe that he has 'strong principles,' while 43 percent think he does not.”
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