Ron Paul holds a slim lead in Iowa heading into this week’s Republican presidential caucuses, but Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have made up a lot of ground in the past week, making it anybody’s ballgame at this point in time.
Paul was at 20 percent in polling released Monday by Public Policy Polling, with Romney at 19 percent and Santorum at 18 percent. New Gingrich was in fourth at 14 percent, with Rick Perry in fifth at 10 percent.
Santorum is the surprise mover and shaker in the race, improving eight points since last week’s PPP survey of Iowa voters. According to the PPP numbers, Santorum enjoys a wide advantage in net favorability, with 60 percent of voters in Iowa giving him a favorable view and 30 percent saying they view him unfavorably. No other candidate is above the 52 percent barrier in favorability.
Santorum is also the top choice of two key Republican voting demographics – Tea Party voters (23 percent) and evangelicals (24 percent). Gingrich is second among those two groups at 18 percent and 16 percent, respectively.
Just as surprising as Santorum’s quick rise has been Paul’s quick fall. The Texas congressman was at 24 percent in a PPP Iowa poll last week and saw his net favorability drop from 53 percent favorable/40 percent unfavorable to 43 percent favorable/51 percent unfavorable.