Just as we thought, the new CNN-ORC International Iowa poll made news. Mitt Romney is in the lead with 25 percent. Ron Paul follows with 22 percent. Rick Santorum, the big winner in this poll, got 16 percent. Newt Gingrich, the big loser in this poll, snagged 14 percent. Rick Perry earned 11 percent. And Michele Bachmann was only able to muster 9 percent support.
Considering the margin of error in this poll is plus- or minus-4.5 points, this is basically an all-around statistical tie. But there’s no denying the psychic boost and deflation these numbers will induce.
Let’s revisit the questions I asked in the last post, shall we?
1.) How much has renewed interest in Ron Paul’s racist newsletters hurt him?
The Texas congressman is up 5 points — from 17 percent to 22 percent — over his standing in the last CNN-Time-ORC International poll.
He was in third place then, running second to Romney. But other surveys that followed showed Paul ahead and surging in Iowa. There was also talk about what a Paul win might do to the relevance of the Iowa caucuses. That’s why this new poll should fall in the deflation category for the cranky libertarian.
2.) Has Newt Gingrich’s standing eroded further (thanks to a barrage of negative ads and his lack of equal response)?
That would be an emphatic yes. In the last CNN poll, the former House speaker led the pack with 33 percent support. He now has 14 percent.
3.) Is talk of a surge in conservative support for Rick Santorum real?
That, too, would be an emphatic yes. The former Pennsylvania senator garnered only 5 percent in the last CNN survey. That put him at second-to-last in the field. Santorum’s support has now tripled and placed him third.
4.) Where is Michele Bachmann in the poll?
The Minnesota congresswoman is in the basement with 9 percent. This is proof that winning the Iowa straw poll doesn’t mean anything. It means that being a native daughter doesn’t mean anything to potential Republican caucus-goers. And it means that practically living in the state doesn’t give you too much of an advantage either.
5.) Will Rick Perry’s slick commercials be enough to cancel out the memory of his disastrous debate performances? A strong showing in this afternoon’s poll would suggest yes.
But the answer from the poll results is a no. With 11 percent support, the governor of Texas is doing slightly better than Bachmann.
6.) And will Mitt Romney be revealed as the sleeper candidate?
Thanks to Gingrich’s precipitous 19-point fall and his own 5-point boost, Romney now leads the pack with 25 percent support. But here’s the number that should have Camp Romney smiling. When asked which candidate has the best chance of beating President Obama, Romney was the hands-down winner with 41 percent. We’ll find out Tuesday if that view of the former Massachusetts governor helps him pull off a stunning upset.