(CNN) – As the Iowa caucuses near, the race between the top tier Republican presidential candidates remains as close as ever, according to a new poll.
The American Research Group survey of likely Republican caucus goers released Friday showed Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich in a statistical tie for the lead, garnering 21%, 20% and 19% respectively.
Although the disparity between the top three candidates falls within the margin of error, this was the first ARG poll in which Paul received the top spot.
A similar survey taken in the first-in-the-nation caucus state earlier in the month showed Gingrich, the former House speaker, with 22%, Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, with 20% and Paul, the Texas congressman, with 17%.
In the latest poll, Texas Gov. Rick Perry came in at 9%, followed by Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota with 8%, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman with 6% and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania with 4%.
ARG surveyed 600 likely Iowa caucus goers between Dec. 19 and Dec. 22 with a sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points.