Mitt Romney is the Republican Party front-runner in Iowa in the final days before the first voting leading up to the 2012 U.S. presidential election, leading Ron Paul by two points.
The Des Moines Register poll out Saturday gave the former Massachusetts governor 24 percent support to 22 percent for libertarian U.S. Representative Paul. Social conservative Rick Santorum surged into third place with 15 percent and Newt Gingrich was fourth with 12 percent.
Texas Governor Rick Perry was behind Gingrich with 11 percent, while Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who won Iowa’s August straw poll, sagged to 7 percent.
The candidates crisscrossed Iowa Saturday to boost support and sway undecided voters.
While the winner of the Iowa caucus may not go on to win a party nomination, or the presidency, a poor showing in the state may force some candidates to drop out of the race.
University of Iowa political science professor Timothy Hagle tells VOA that Romney’s staying power trumps that of other candidates.
“Quite frankly, Romney is prepared for the long haul, unlike some of the other candidates, and so if these other candidates, whether its Gingrich or Santorum or any of the others, if they don’t get a sufficient bounce coming out of Iowa and New Hampshire, they won’t get the fundraising bump that they need to be able to go longer into the Super Tuesday states.”
Jon Huntsman, who was President Barack Obama’s ambassador to China, is focusing his campaign on New Hampshire, the second state scheduled to vote on a nominee. That northeastern state holds its primary January 10.