Santorum Pheasant Hunting with Congressman Steve King (R-IA)

With the latest CNN/Time/ORC Iowa Caucus poll (taken from 2/21-27) we see Mitt Romney and Ron Paul at the #1 and 2 spots, but there has been a surge with Santorum.  He has gained 11 points since the last time this poll was taken (11/29-12/6).  Newt Gingrich has fallen 19 percentage points.  Both Romney and Paul have gained 5 points.  Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann have gained 2 points.

The results are:

  1. Romney – 25%
  2. Paul – 22%
  3. Santorum – 16%
  4. Gingrich – 14%
  5. Perry – 11%
  6. Bachmann – 9%
  7. Huntsman – 1%

43% may still change their mind.  This demonstrates what we’ve seen on the ground, but haven’t had the polls to back it up is that Santorum is indeed surging, gaining momentum and he is still campaigning hard in the state.  Bachmann is currently trying to cram a 99 county tour in at the last minute before the Caucus to complete the “Full Grassley,” but in doing so she’s still not interacting with the voters like Santorum has and it doesn’t seem to be paying off like I’m sure her campaign has hoped it would.

Santorum has run two TV spots and just released a radio ad today, and he has benefitted from several key endorsements which do appear to make a difference.  He seems to be peaking at just the right time for a strong finish in the Iowa Caucus.

Another interesting note is that 60% answered that the federal budget deficit is the most pressing economic issue facing the country.  That would certainly explain Paul’s rise in the polls as well since he has had the most aggressive plan to address the deficit.

New Hampshire was also polled, and it would appear Romney still has this locked up, but Ron Paul has moved into 2nd place (again can we drop the Iowa is crazy meme if he wins here?).

  1. Romney – 46%
  2. Paul – 16%
  3. Gingrich – 14%
  4. Huntsman – 9%
  5. Santorum – 4%
  6. Bachmann – 3%
  7. Perry – 2%

Santorum while not as dramatic has seen an uptick of support in New Hampshire as well.

What these two polls show is that of the full spectrum conservative candidates Santorum has the momentum, Bachmann and Perry do not.  Both of these candidates if they don’t finish in the top three are done which if Santorum finishes strong in Iowa like the latest poll indicates would certainly change things up going into South Carolina.  Certainly not a given, but Santorum is proving to be the true dark horse in this race.

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