Time/CNN Poll: Romney rises, Gingrich stumbles in Iowa, New Hampshire

at 04:31 PM ET, 12/28/2011

New Time/CNN poll numbers show former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney at the front of the field in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Mitt Romney shakes hands as he leaves a campaign event at Homer's Deli and Bakery with a stack of baked goods December 28, 2011 in Clinton, Iowa. (Chip Somodevilla - GETTY IMAGES)

In Iowa, Romney takes 25 percent, followed closely by Texas Rep. Ron Paul at 22 percent. Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum takes 16 percent while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich receives 14 percent of the vote. Texas Gov. Rick Perry follows with 11 percent and Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) stands at 9 percent.

Romney’s support in the state has grown by five points since an early December Time/CNN survey, the largest bump for any candidate other than Santorum, whose support increased by 11 points between the two polls. Santorum’s traditional approach to Iowa appears to be paying off — and a new $250,000 super PAC buy in support of the candidate should help too.

Gingrich, who has weathered a barrage of negative ads in Iowa, lost 19 points from the Time/CNN poll conducted earlier this month — a precipitous drop that places him firmly in the second tier of candidates at the moment.

For months, Romney’s campaign downplayed expectations in the Hawkeye State but, of late, has engaged in a full-court press there. That level of activity coupled with these poll numbers suggest anything short of a close second-place finish to Paul could be seen as a defeat for the former Massachusetts governor.

In New Hampshire, where Romney has long been the frontrunner, he continues to dominate. Romney received 44 percent in the new Time/CNN survey, a jump from 35 percent earlier this month.

Paul takes second in the Granite State with 17 percent followed by Gingrich at 16 percent, a ten point drop from a Time/CNN poll in the Granite State earlier this month. Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman stands at 9 percent, Santorum at 4 percent, Bachmann at 3 percent and Perry at 2 percent.

The survey of  452 likely Republican caucus-goers in Iowa was taken from December 21 to 24, just prior to Christmas. The survey of 543 likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire was taken from December 26 to 27. The Iowa poll has a margin of error of 4.5 percent and the New Hampshire poll a margin of error of 4 percent.

It’s worth noting that the poll only surveyed registered Republicans. While independents can’t caucus, they can if they change their registration at the door.

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