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Iowa poll: Santorum surges as Gingrich fades, Romney leads

December 30, 2011|By Kim Geiger
(Chip Somodevilla/Getty…)

While Mitt Romney and Ron Paul lead the pack among GOP candidates favored by likely Iowa caucus-goers, Rick Santorum’s surge continues, according to a new NBC/Marist poll released Friday.

The poll, which was conducted Dec. 27-28, also shows "tea party" supporters becoming more divided as the Jan. 3 caucus nears.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leads with 23% support from likely caucus-goers, followed by Texas Rep. Ron Paul, with 21%.

Next is former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who has surged to 15%, up considerably from just 5% in late November, the last time the poll was taken. Texas Gov. Rick Perry  has also seen a bump in support, though not as drastic as Santorum’s. Perry went from 9% in late-November to 14% in this latest poll.

The poll is bad news for former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who was atop the GOP field with 26% support last month. He placed fifth in this latest poll, with 13% support. Worse, 35% now say he would be unacceptable as the GOP nominee, compared with 16% last month. And 6% identify him as the “true conservative” in the race.

About half of likely Iowa caucus-goers identify as tea party supporters, and Gingrich’s lead among these voters has also dissolved. Tea party support now appears to be splintered between a number of candidates, with Santorum favored by 20%, followed by Romney and Paul with 17%, Gingrich with 16%, Perry with 15% and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann with 10%.

The results of the NBC/Marist poll mirror the findings of a CNN-Time poll that was released earlier this week. Their methodologies were slightly different: Unlike the CNN-Time poll, NBC/Marist contacted some respondents by cell phone and the likely voter model included independents and some Democrats.

The CNN-Time poll found, among likely voters in Iowa, 25% support for Romney, 22% for Paul, 16% for Santorum, 14% for Gingrich, 11% for Perry, 9% for Bachmann and 1% for former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who is not campaigning in Iowa.

kim.geiger@latimes.com

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