With less than a week to go before the Iowa caucus, the latest polls out of the Hawkeye State from CNN and Public Policy Polling show Ron Paul and Mitt Romney fighting for the top and Newt Gingrich falling.
The more shocking of the two polls is from CNN, who hasn’t conducted a survey in Iowa since earlier this month. As you can see below, both Paul and Romney have added modest support since the last poll (in parentesis to the side) while Gingrich has fallen substantially. But the wrinkle in that Santorum’s support has jumped by double-digits (remember what I wrote about him on Monday…don’t underestimate him).
- Mitt Romney: 25% (+5)
- Ron Paul: 22% (+5)
- Rick Santorum: 16% (+11)
- Newt Gingrich: 14% (-19)
- Rick Perry: 11% (+2)
- Michele Bachmann: 9% (+2)
- Jon Huntsman: 1% (—)
- None/No opinion: 2%
Public Policy Polling (PPP) also released polling on Tuesday, which I somehow overlooked, showing Paul still on top with Romney trailing him. PPP’s last poll from Iowa came out just before Christmas. You can also see that the uptick in Santorum’s support isn’t present as it is in the CNN poll.
Gary Johnson, a former two-term Governor of New Mexico, announced this morning that he is leaving the field for the Republican nomination and switching parties to seek the Libertarian Party’s nomination next May in Las Vegas.
Despite his stellar fiscal record and support for limited government, Johnson struggled to be included in the Republican debates; only appear in two out of nearly two dozen. Many debates set criteria for inclusion based on polling, which was unfortunate for Johnson since he was often not included in many of these surveys. Johnson had been flirting with this idea for some time, making it a horribly kept secret.
Johnson winning the Libertarian Party’s nomination isn’t a sure thing. He’ll have to go through the process like the rest of the candidates. He’ll also face scrutiny because he was Republican.
In case you haven’t seen the statement from the campaign, here is what was e-mailed out to supporters less than an hour ago.
By now, you have probably heard the news.
This morning, I stepped before the microphones at a news conference in the New Mexico capitol and announced that I am seeking the Libertarian nomination for President of the United States. The Libertarian Party nominee will be on the ballot in all 50 states – as was the case in 2008.
It was both a difficult decision – and an easy one. It was difficult because I have a lot of Republican history, and a lot of Republican supporters. But in the final analysis, as many, many commentators have said since watching how I governed in New Mexico, I am a Libertarian - that is, someone who is fiscally very conservative but holds freedom-based positions on many social issues.
Much has been made in recent days about the newsletters that were written in Ron Paul’s name some 20 years ago. A few of us here have weighed in on the controversy, and you’ve no doubt seen it on other blogs; some believing Paul’s explantion of the events, others using it as yet another opportunity to criticize him.
As I recently noted, I plan on voting for Ron Paul in the March 6th primary in my home state of Georgia. However, I also made mention of some issues I have with him, though I only mentioned his love of earmarks. Another point that was in the back of my mind when I wrote that post was the newsletters.
Personally, I don’t believe Paul wrote the newsletters. Did he know about their content? I think that is debatable. Do I believe that Paul is a racist or anti-gay? Absolutely not. As he has so frequently said, though he is borrowing from Ayn Rand, to be a racist is to view people as groups, not individuals; and that is anathema to the libertarian viewpoint. Paul also voted to get rid of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which prevented gays from serving openly in the military.
Nevertheless, this controversy has again caused somewhat of a headache for libertarians since the man who is largely carrying our mantle is being cast as a racist — or, at the very least, someone who associates with them. Steve Horwitz explains the dilemma:
Revolution PAC, a pro-Ron Paul super political action committee, launched a new web ad last week that notes the military support Paul had received and points out that the values that our soldiers take an oath to uphold are the same that Paul has taken as stand for in Washington:
Many conservative pundits have knocked Ron Paul for his non-interventionist foreign policy views, to the point of questioning his and his supporters patriotism. Unfortunately, they never point out that of the remaining candidates, Ron Paul is the only one that served in the military. Moreover, these same pundits fail to realize (or perhaps don’t want to admit) that the nation cannot continue this doctrine of perpetual war that was set in place by George W. Bush and continued by Barack Obama. We simply cannot afford it, both in terms of dollars and lives lost.
As we approach the Iowa caucus, we’re seeing several new polls released that show Newt Gingrich’s lead over Mitt Romney has completely evaporated. Take the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll showing both at 30%, with Ron Paul following well behind them in third:
- Mitt Romney: 30%
- Newt Gingrich: 30%
- Ron Paul: 15%
- Rick Perry: 7%
- Michele Bachmann: 7%
- Rick Santorum: 3%
- Jon Huntsman: 3%
- None/No opinion: 5%
The Hill has some important takeaways from the poll, including that 36% of Republican voters could still change their minds before they cast their ballot:
The poll shows Romney might still be winning the electability argument, as 38 percent believed that of all the candidates, Romney “has the best chance to defeat Barack Obama in the general election,” compared to Gingrich’s 28 percent. However, Gingrich wins 43 percent compared to Romney’s 23 percent when voters were asked who “has the best experience to be president.”
Healthcare — and likely his support of the individual mandate in Massachusetts — still seems to be the major obstacle for Romney to overcome with voters, as 36 percent named it a “major reason to oppose” him as the nominee.
With the last couple of polls out of Iowa showing him at the front of the pack (though one of them is within the margin of error) — thanks in large part to younger voters, Ron Paul has rolled out another new ad in early primary states.
The new ad, rolled out like a movie preview, shows Washington as a “lost city” that has “lost hope” where none of the political parties can agree on anything and shift blame on each other for failures. The ad shows Paul emerging as someone that has always remained constant, voting against every tax hike and will pushing for $1 trillion in spending cuts during his first year.
Here’s the ad:
With the Iowa caucus just a couple of weeks away, camapaigns are working hard to make a good impression on voters and to push down rivals. Polls earlier this month had showed Newt Gingrich doing well in the Hawkeye State, but as his record has been attacked, his base of support has dropped.
Recent polls had showed Gingrich in a statistical tie with Paul and/or Mitt Romney in the state; but according to the latest survey from Public Policy Polling (PPP), Gingrich has bottomed out and Ron Paul now leads (though Romney is in the margin of error):
- Ron Paul: 23%
- Mitt Romney: 20%
- Newt Gingrich: 14%
- Rick Perry: 10%
- Michele Bachmann: 10%
- Rick Santorum: 10%
- Jon Huntsman: 4%
- Other/Not sure: 7
PPP dives into Paul’s numbers:
Paul’s ascendancy is a sign that perhaps campaigns do matter at least a little, in a year where there has been a lot of discussion about whether they still do in Iowa. 22% of voters think he’s run the best campaign in the state compared to only 8% for Gingrich and 5% for Romney. The only other candidate to hit double digits on that question is Bachmann at 19%. Paul also leads Romney 26-5 (with Gingrich at 13%) with the 22% of voters who say it’s ‘very important’ that a candidate spends a lot of time in Iowa. Finally Paul leads Romney 29-19 among the 26% of likely voters who have seen one of the candidates in person.
With roughly 75% of the Republican electorate choosing another candidate, Mitt Romney is making an appeal to the Tea Party-minded voters. Romney is hoping that the endorsement of South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who was backed with Tea Party support, will convince these voters that he is worthy of their backing:
In a state where the Tea Party may hold greater influence than in any other early primary contest, Mitt Romney told reporters in South Carolina today he could be the “ideal” candidate to earn Tea Party support.
“I believe on the issues as well, that I line up with [Tea Party supporters]: a smaller government, a less intrusive government, regulations being pared back, holding down the tax rates of the American people, maintaining a strong defense – and so many Tea Party folks are going to find me, I believe, to be the ideal candidate,” Romney said.
The former Massachusetts governor also contrasted his personal background with that of the state’s current frontrunner, Newt Gingrich, in making his appeal for Tea Party support.
“I think the Tea Party is anxious to have people who are outside Washington coming in to change Washington, as opposed to people who have been in Washington for 30 years,” Romney said.
At his side, Governor Haley noted that there was “no such thing as a Tea Party candidate,” but that a candidate can be supported by the Tea Party.
“That is what makes the Tea Party great. They’re independent people,” Haley said.
With Gingrich falling in the polls, the very real prospect of Ron Paul winning the Iowa caucus has some, including Chris Wallace of Fox News, saying that it will cheapen its significance. None of that is to say he will win, but it’s clear that there is an element in Republican politics that is going to downplay Paul’s impact in the race.
Over at The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf explains that downplaying Paul and his views — as so many, including the National Review, are trying to do — is a mistake:
Dismissing the burgeoning number of Americans on the right who are suspicious of interventionism and hawkishness is intellectually suspect and unwise. A majority of Republicans now think that the Iraq War was a mistake. The general non-interventionist impulse on the right has never completely gone away. Paul is by no means the ideal vehicle for non-interventionism. But insofar as he plays a significant role in the GOP primary, it will be partly due to the fact that the legitimate concerns he articulates are taken up by no other viable candidate. One needn’t be an ardent Paul supporter to suspect that National Review would rather that no viable GOP candidate spoke up to challenge the hawkish impulses on the elite right .
Things are really getting interesting in Iowa. Polls have shifted during the course of the week. What looked like a strong lead for Newt Gingrich diminished into a tie with Ron Paul. But the latest survey from Rasmussen of likely caucus-goers shows Mitt Romney emerging with a slight lead.
- Mitt Romney: 23%
- Newt Gingrich: 20%
- Ron Paul: 18%
- Rick Perry: 10%
- Michele Bachmann: 9%
- Rick Santorum: 6%
- Jon Huntsman: 5%
- Other: 2%
- Not sure: 8%
Byron York explains the significance of the poll:
In the new survey, every candidate but Gingrich gained support in the last few weeks. The biggest gainers were Romney, up four points; Paul, up eight points; and Perry, up four points. Michele Bachmann climbed three points, as did Jon Huntsman, who has been to Iowa a grand total of one time in the campaign.
Gingrich, on the other hand, fell 12 points.
Gingrich has been the target of a barrage of attack ads on Iowa television and radio, particularly from Paul, Romney, and Perry. The consensus among Iowa GOP insiders is that those ads are beginning to take a toll. “That stuff has an impact, where people are at least going to pause” in their enthusiasm for Gingrich, says Bob vander Plaats, an influential Iowa social conservative leader.