Is Ron Paul — the Republican Party’s REAL maverick — posed to win the Iowa cauces? It sounds that way. A new poll shows him within striking distance of winning and it also underscores a fact that brings bit of deja vu for those who’ve watched the Republican race: all the news in recent weeks has been about the steady ascent of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich as the new Anti-Romney. The poll suggests Gingrich is now starting to lose a bit of ground:
There has been some major movement in the Republican Presidential race in Iowa over the last week, with what was a 9 point lead for Newt Gingrich now all the way down to a single point. Gingrich is at 22% to 21% for Paul with Mitt Romney at 16%, Michele Bachmann at 11%, Rick Perry at 9%, Rick Santorum at 8%, Jon Huntsman at 5%, and Gary Johnson at 1%.
Gingrich has dropped 5 points in the last week and he’s also seen a significant decline in his favorability numbers. Last week he was at +31 (62/31) and he’s now dropped 19 points to +12 (52/40). The attacks on him appear to be taking a heavy toll- his support with Tea Party voters has declined from 35% to 24%.
Paul meanwhile has seen a big increase in his popularity from +14 (52/38) to +30 (61/31). There are a lot of parallels between Paul’s strength in Iowa and Barack Obama’s in 2008- he’s doing well with new voters, young voters, and non-Republican voters:
-59% of likely voters participated in the 2008 Republican caucus and they support Gingrich 26-18. But among the 41% of likely voters who are ‘new’ for 2012 Paul leads Gingrich 25-17 with Romney at 16%.
In Iowa, at least, Paul is on the ascent. The poll shows he is NOT just getting his former supporters:
Paul is doing a good job of bringing out folks who haven’t done this before.
-He’s also very strong with young voters. Among likely caucus goers under 45 Paul is up 30-16 on Gingrich. With those over 45, Gingrich leads him 26-15 with Romney at 17%.
-Among Republicans Gingrich leads Paul 25-17. But with voters who identify as Democrats or independents, 21% of the electorate in a year with no action on the Democratic side, Paul leads Gingrich 34-14 with Romney at 17%.
Of course, the question is: will those polled vote?
Young voters, independents, and folks who haven’t voted in caucuses before is an unusual coalition for a Republican candidate…the big question is whether these folks will really come out and vote…if they do, we could be in for a big upset.
Paul’s supporters are considerably more committed to him than Gingrich’s are. 77% of current Paul voters say they’re definitely going to vote for him, compared to only 54% for Gingrich. Romney has much more solid support than Gingrich as well, 67% of his voters saying they’re with him for the long haul. Among only voters who say their mind’s totally made up, 29% support Paul to 21% for Gingrich, 18% for Romney, and 11% for Bachmann.
So, yes, there are apparently some GOPers who feel strongly about their support for Romney.
Romney’s staying right in place. He was at 16% last week and he’s at 16% this week. His net favorability was a +4 spread last week and it’s a +4 spread this week. Gingrich’s support is declining in Iowa but Romney’s not gaining, just as he failed to gain when Cain and Perry and Bachmann collapsed before. One statistic that really jumps out- only 44% of Romney’s supporters from 2008 say they plan to vote for him again. If he was even just retaining all his support from last time around he’d be in the lead.
In other words: in Iowa it remains a race up for grabs — and there is a good chance Paul and his supporters will grab it.
Which would mean a whole new media narrative — even if Paul never went beyond Iowa.