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%. 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%.
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.
Like Romney, there's been little change in Michele Bachmann's standing over the last week. Her favorability was +21 (56/35). Now it's +18 (55/37). She's gone from 13% support to 11%.
Rick Perry generated a ton of attention in the last week with his ad decrying the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and the 'War on Christmas,' but it hasn't done much for his poll standing. He was at 9% and he's still at 9%. His favorability numbers are under water with 43% of likely voters viewing him favorably to 47% with a negative opinion. The only Republican who's less well regarded is Jon Huntsman. Only 41% of Iowa Republicans even oppose gays serving in the military to 28% who support it and 31% unsure...and Perry's only tied for fourth even with those who are opposed, behind Gingrich, Bachmann, and Paul.
-52% of likely voters claim to have watched the debate in Des Moines on Saturday night. Although I'm skeptical that many really watched, it does speak to how influential the debates have been in this race.
-Republicans continue to think Gingrich is the most electable candidate. 30% think it's him to 21% for Romney, and 14% for Paul with no one else in double digits.
-Here's a finding that helps explain why Mitt Romney's struggling so much: 31% of voters have a favorable opinion of the Republican establishment and an equal 31% have an unfavorable one with 38% unsure. When Romney rolls out endorsement after endorsement, to a lot of voters that's actually coming across as a negative thing. With those anti-establishment voters Paul's at 34% to 18% for Gingrich, 12% for Santorum, and only 10% for Romney.
-39% of voters think that Mitt Romney has stronger values to 18% for Newt Gingrich. 43% aren't sure and that's pretty telling.
-Finally we threw in a Tim Tebow favorability question for part of the field period. He comes out at a net +35 (48/13), making him more popular than any of the actual candidates. Maybe in 2024...
Our next weekly Iowa poll with be out on Monday the 19th.
Full results here