A new survey of people likely to attend Iowa's Republican caucuses indicates that the former House speaker's support in the Hawkeye State is plunging. And according to a CNN/Time/ORC International Poll, one-time long shot candidate Rick Santorum has more than tripled his support since the beginning of the month.As Byron York Reports, a significant percentage of Paul's support is coming not from Republicans but from Democrats and Independents. In theory, among Republican voters - according to this poll - Santorum may be Romney's next challenger.
Twenty-five percent of people questioned say if the caucuses were held today, they'd most likely back Mitt Romney, with 22% saying they'd support Rep. Ron Paul of Texas. Romney's three point margin is within the poll's sampling error.
The poll's Wednesday release comes six days before Iowa's January 3 caucuses, which kickoff the presidential primary and caucus calendar. The Iowa caucuses are followed one week later by the New Hampshire primary.
In Iowa, both Romney and Paul are each up five points among likely caucus goers from a CNN/Time/ORC poll conducted at the start of December. The new survey indicates that Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania, is at 16% support, up 11 points from the beginning of the month, with Gingrich at 14%, down from 33% in the previous poll. Since Gingrich's rise late last month and early this month in both national and early voting state surveys, he's come under attack by many of the rival campaigns.'Conventional' wisdom at both Hot Air and and Erick Erickson at Red State says that this news benefits Romney because Santorum has no money or real organization. Frankly, this defeatist attitude among conservatives is wearing thin. Then again, Erickson recently threw all of his chips into the 'elect Gingrich' movement so his reticence to see a path to victory for Santorum could be slightly misguided.
The fact remains, there has never been a primary season like this one. That conventional wisdom everyone would like to follow was rendered meaningless some time ago.
Santorum may be a distant memory one month from now. He may also be the frontrunner. Anyone who tells you they know which it will be, is guessing.
That said, if you're a conservative, revel in this news as long as you can because it's about to change.
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