A new poll from Public Policy Polling shows that Ron Paul has taken the lead in the Iowa caucus race, while Newt Gingrich’s support is fading fast. A different Gallup poll shows Gringrich still holding the lead, but slipping, while The New York Times Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight has Paul in the lead as well.
Gingrich has seen his numbers in the PPP poll drop from 27 percent to 14 percent in just three weeks, while his favorability rating is now split at 46 percent for to 47 percent against, the worst of any candidate not named Jon Huntsman. That’s quite a fall for someone who looked to be running away with the state and taking charge on the national level.
Mitt Romney has also seen his numbers tick up slightly (to 20%), putting him just behind Paul (23%) for second place. The poll measured voters who are planning to vote in the Republican caucus.
Perhaps the most telling secondary question was, “Do you think Newt Gingrich has strong principles?” Only 36 percent say that he does, but for Paul that number was 73 percent.
The bad news for Paul, however, is that when asked for their second choice for President, only 9% said they would vote for him after their preferred candidate. That means if supporters of any of the second-tier candidates sense defeat and decided to abandon their choice at the last minute, those votes are more likely to go to Romney. Even if Romney doesn’t win, the stronger than expected showing could be the snowball that starts a primary avalanche for him.
One other tidbit from the PPP poll, the first question about Barack Obama asked if the respondents think he was born in the United States. Fifty-two percent either said he was not or they’re not sure.
Update: Here’s an alternate take on the PPP poll.