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Poll: Romney With Narrow Lead Over Paul, Santorum Poll: Romney With Narrow Lead Over Paul, Santorum

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The Trail: 2012 Presidential News from the Field / CAMPAIGN 2012

Poll: Romney With Narrow Lead Over Paul, Santorum

GOP Presidential Candidate Riick Santorum meets with supporters at a football watchng party at the Okoboji Grill restaurant in Johnston, Iowa.(Ralf-Finn Hestoft)

photo of Josh Kraushaar
December 31, 2011

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article misstated poll numbers. Romney is polling at 24 percent; Paul is polling at 22 percent.

Mitt Romney has emerged as the frontrunner in Iowa but faces a threat from the surging campaign of Rick Santorum and Ron Paul, according to the pre-caucus Des Moines Register poll released Saturday evening.

(PICTURES: Scenes from the campaign trail in Iowa)

 

The poll shows that Romney holding a narrow 24 to 22 percent lead over Paul, with Santorum in third with 15 percent. Newt Gingrich is at 12 percent, Rick Perry at 11 percent, and Michele Bachmann lagging behind with seven percent.

But the poll also found Santorum was benefiting from late momentum that isn’t fully reflective in the overall numbers.  In the final two days the survey was in the field, Santorum finished in second place with 21 percent, while Paul dropped to third, with 18 percent. Romney held onto a narrow first place lead.

(RELATED: Will Viable Alternative to Romney Come Out of Iowa?)

“Momentum’s name is Rick Santorum,” Des Moines Register pollster Ann Selzer said. Santorum has spent more time than any other candidate in Iowa, campaigning in all 99 of the state’s counties. 

The Des Moines Register poll surveyed 602 likely Republican caucusgoers, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. In the final two days of polling, 302 likely caucusgoers were interviewed, with a margin of error of plus or minus 5.6 percentage points.

In Selzer’s previous survey, conducted from Nov. 27-30, Gingrich held a 25 to 18 percent lead over Paul, with Romney a close third with 16 percent. Santorum was at the back of the pack with six percent, tied with Perry and only leading Jon Huntsman, who has barely campaigned in the state.

A different candidate led in each of the Des Moines Register’s previous three polls: Romney in June, businessman Herman Cain in October and Gingrich last month.

The poll results are similar to the findings of the CNN/TIME and NBC/Marist Iowa polls, released earlier this week.  Both showed Romney with a narrow lead, with a surging Santorum and Paul.

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