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Decision time has arrived for Iowa’s Republican voters. The polls generally show Mitt Romney in first, followed by Ron Paul and Rick Santorum, but there is room for an upset with 41% of voters saying they haven’t made up their minds. The field will likely be thinner tomorrow as at least one candidate will probably drop out after a disappointing showing.
Mitt Romney has a lead of just 1.3% in the RealClearPolitics poll average. Romney is predicting victory, but a first-place finish isn’t vital to his campaign. One of his aides explained, “Iowa is about eliminating Gingrich and Perry without us having to spend a lot of money to do so.” Apparently, Santorum and Paul aren’t viewed as real threats. Mitt Romney has a huge lead in New Hampshire and seems certain to win there. He is also ahead nationally.
A victory by Ron Paul is a distinct possibility. He is right on Romney’s heels in the polls and his non-Republican supporters can show up and declare themselves as members of the party just to support him. InsiderAdvantage has him statistically tied for first at 22.4% to Romney’s 22.7. That poll has Santorum in third at 18%, Gingrich at 16%, Perry at 9.6%, Bachmann at 5.8% and Huntsman at 1.8%. Public Policy Polling has Ron Paul with 20%, one ahead of Romney. A win in Iowa could give Paul momentum into New Hampshire, where most polls have him in a distant second place to Romney.
Rick Santorum is the latest candidate to surge, bringing a huge boost in fundraising and momentum after lingering in the single digits for the entire campaign. The polls consistently show him in third place, but one had him in second place at 17%, seven behind Romney and third ahead of Ron Paul. The aforementioned Public Policy Polling survey that shows Paul in first has Santorum in third, only one point behind Romney and two behind Paul, making it essentially a three-way tie.
Newt Gingrich’s massive leads in the polls have collapsed as every other presidential candidate took aim at him. About 45% of all television ads in Iowa became attack ads against Gingrich. He admits that he did not respond quickly or decisively enough against them. When asked whether he felt he was “Swift-Boated,” referring to a campaign that raised questions about Senator John Kerry’s military service in 2004, he said he felt “Romney-boated.”
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