It's Iowa poll week, and yet another survey shows Newt Gingrich leading the state. A poll from The New York Times/CBS has Gingrich topping the field at 31 percent, followed by Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, who are essentially tied with 17 percent and 16 percent support, respectively.
Those numbers track with other results released earlier this week, though things get more interesting below the topline stats. Mitt Romney might still be trailing Gingrich, but his recent Iowa campaigning could be starting to pay off. He attracts the most support (18 percent) when respondents were asked which candidate is their second choice. If Gingrich's surge starts to falter when the candidates all gang up on him in the coming debates, Romney might pick up some support.
Another interesting finding: Iowa may not be the paradise for social conservatives it was thought to be. Just 9 percent of Iowa Republicans listed "social issues" as their most important issue, with "economy and jobs" gobbling up 40 percent, and the "budget deficit" the most crucial issue for 23 percent of likely caucus voters. In a comparable New York Times survey from the summer of 2007, would-be caucus voters ranked immigration among their list of top concerns, second only behind terrorism; now immigration is only of great importance for 4 percent of likely voters. It's a sign that Rick Perry's disappearance can be attributed more to his style than the substance of his immigration stance, and explains why Gingrich hasn't suffered the same fate after taking a more moderate approach than the rest of the field.