From Des Moines Register, 7:30 pm, Dec. 31, 2011:
Mitt Romney tops the latest Des Moines Register Iowa Poll in the closing days before the Iowa caucuses, but Ron Paul and Rick Santorum are poised within striking distance.
The poll, conducted Tuesday through Friday, shows:
Mitt Romney: 24%
Ron Paul: 22%
Rick Santorum: 15%
Newt Gingrich: 12%
Rick Perry: 11%
Michele Bachmann: 7%
But the four-day results don’t reflect just how quickly momentum is shifting in a race that has remained highly fluid for months. If the final two days of polling are considered separately, Santorum rises to second place, with 21%, pushing Paul to third, at 18%. Romney remains the same, at 24%.
“Momentum’s name is Rick Santorum,” said the Register’s pollster, J. Ann Selzer.
Another sign of the race’s volatility: 41% of likely caucusgoers say they could still be persuaded to change their minds.
Selzer & Co. of Des Moines conducted the poll of 602 likely Republican caucusgoers, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. In the final two days of polling, 302 likely caucusgoers were interviewed, with a margin of error of plus or minus 5.6 percentage points.
The first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses, which take place Tuesday evening, kick off voting in the presidential nominating process. The Iowa Poll, a Register exclusive since 1943, is a much-watched indicator of how candidates are faring in the leadoff caucus state.