Gingrich Leads Confused Iowans

The Des Moines Register released its well-regarded Iowa Poll over the weekend. Newt Gingrich topped off the field with 25 percent support a month out from the Iowa caucuses. It's a complete turnaround from his performance in the first two Register polls this year—one in June and another just a little over a month ago—in which the candidate only notched seven percent. Ron Paul comes in second with 18 percent, a sizable jump from his standing in the previous two polls. The seemingly infallible 20 percent support for Mitt Romney might not be as rock solid as predicted; he dropped six percentage points down to 16 percent, though that is still a strong third over the rest of the field.

Gingrich would appear to be in strong shape with such little time remaining until Iowa Republicans vote for their preferred presidential candidate. But the poll likely indicates that early state voters will remain fickle right up until voting day. Only 28 percent of those sampled said that they have fully settled on their candidate. Herman Cain was the vaunted rising star of the field at this time a month ago, topping the Register's poll with 23 percent. Now a former candidate, Cain only garned 8 percent support in this latest poll. Like Cain, Gingrich's bubble could easily burst once he is subjected to criticism at debates and negative ads. There are three debates scheduled for the next month in Iowa (including the sure-to-be-entertaining debate hosted by Donald Trump), so Iowans will get a number of chances to see the candidates spar in person again before they vote.

With Iowa voters still waffling on the candidates, an opportunity exists for someone to blitz the state over the next month and build enough momentum to swing the caucuses their way—or so the candidates with deep pockets would like to believe. Mitt Romney has been prepping to enter the state and could inundate local TV stations with ads, drowning out the other candidates. He might not lead the Iowa Poll, but he did receive the majority when people were asked who was "the most electable in a general election," trumping Gingrich by 16 percent.

Rick Perry, the other candidate with money to burn, hovered alongside Rick Santorum at six percent in the Register's poll, but he is plotting to bring in over 600 of his Texas supporters to blanket Iowa, pairing it with a bus tour across the state to meet the voters himself. One of the most surprising figures in the Register's poll was that 64 percent of the likely caucus voters they spoke with had yet to see a single Republican presidential candidate in person. Ground politics might be playing less of a role in this cycle than in years past, but that still leaves a lot of potential voters who could be swayed by seeing a candidate in person.


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