Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Texas Congressman Ron Paul are leading the pack in Iowa with just two weeks to go until Caucus Day. But large numbers of voters remain uncommitted and lots could change between now and January 3.
The new Rasmussen Reports survey of Iowa caucus participants shows Romney on top with 25% of the vote followed by Paul at 20% and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 17%. Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, both at 10%, are the only other candidates in double-digits. Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann earns six percent (6%), former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman four percent (4%), while one percent (1%) prefer some other candidate and eight percent (8%) are not sure.
This poll reflects the highest level of support yet measured for Romney and Paul. It’s also by far the best result yet for Santorum who on Tuesday received an endorsement from Bob Vander Plaats, a major social conservative leader in Iowa. While the Evangelical Christian vote is very divided at this time, Santorum now picks up 19% of it, more than any other candidate. Romney is close behind at 18%.
Among those who say they are certain to participate in the caucus, Romney and Paul are essentially even. As always in a caucus, the organizational effort to get identified supporters to show up on January 3 is likely to determine the outcome. Additionally, only 46% of Iowa caucus goers are certain of their vote and say they won’t change their mind in the next two weeks.
Romney leads with Gingrich in second among those who consider themselves Republicans. Paul has a wide lead among non-Republicans who are likely to participate in the caucuses.
This Iowa survey of 750 Likely Republican Caucus Participants was conducted on December 19, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.
Scott Rasmussen wrote yesterday that, in Iowa, it has become Romney, Paul, and a game of musical chairs. “It is possible to envision Gingrich, Bachmann, Perry or Rick Santorum finishing near the top, and it is equally possible to see any one of them finishing near the bottom.”
Romney is now seen as the strongest candidate against President Obama by 35% of Iowa caucus-goers. Twenty-five percent (25%) see Gingrich as the strongest candidate. A week ago, the two were even in that category. Fifteen percent (15%) see Paul as the strongest candidate.
Paul is seen as the weakest candidate by 26%, Bachmann by 21%. Sixteen percent (16%) say that Gingrich would be the weakest general election candidate while only three percent (3%) hold that view of Romney.
A week ago, Romney was in first and Gingrich in second with Paul close behind.