Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul has maintained his lead leading up to the Iowa caucuses, according to the first major poll since Christmas.
Public Policy Polling’s
survey of likely Republican caucus voters, conducted Dec. 26-27, shows 24 percent support the Texas congressman, compared with 20 percent for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and 13 percent for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. To be sure, Paul’s lead over Romney was within the poll’s 4.1 percentage point margin of error.
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann was in fourth place at 11 percent, followed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who were tied at 10 percent. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman scored 4 percent.
Romney leads Paul among voters who are actually Republicans – 22 percent to 20 percent. But Democrats and Independents can vote in Iowa’s Republican caucuses, too. Among the 24 percent of voters who said they are Independents or Democrats, Paul tops Romney 39 percent to 12 percent.
Romney does better with seniors, beating Paul 34 percent to 12 percent. But Paul does better with voters under age 45 -- 35 percent to 11 percent.
“If Ron Paul really manages to change the electorate by turning out large numbers of young people and Independents, he should win Iowa,” Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling, said in a statement.
“If it’s a more traditional turnout with an older electorate, Romney will probably win. And given his personal popularity, it’s worth keeping an eye on Santorum in the final week.”
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