(CNN) – Mitt Romney and Ron Paul remain neck-and-neck in Iowa among likely Republican caucus-goers, according to a poll released Saturday by the state's largest newspaper.
The Des Moines Register poll showed Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, with 24% and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas with 22%. The No. 3 spot went to former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania with 15%, followed by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich with 12%, Texas Gov. Rick Perry with 11% and Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota with 7%.
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The poll was conducted Tuesday through Friday but results from just Thursday and Friday considered separately showed Santorum in second place with 21% and Paul third with 18% while Romney remained steady at 24%.
The Register poll is the last major one expected before Tuesday's caucuses, when the first votes of the 2012 race will be cast.
A senior Romney strategist told CNN that the "mood is positive" and that Team Romney is "a confident campaign, but not an arrogant one," adding that "the campaign is taking nothing for granted."
The latest poll follows an NBC/Marist poll and a CNN/Time/ORC International poll released earlier in the week that showed a close contest for the No. 1 spot between Romney and Paul.
The NBC survey released Friday showed Romney with 23% support and Paul with 21%. Santorum received 15% followed by Perry with 14% and Gingrich with 13%. Six percent indicated they would back Bachmann.
Wednesday's CNN results of likely GOP caucus participants indicated Romney and Paul statistically tied for the top spot, with 25% and 22% respectively. It also showed a surging Santorum with 16% support and a waning Gingrich with 14%. Perry received 11% followed by Bachmann at 9% and Huntsman at 1%.
The Des Moines Register poll released shortly before the state caucuses in 2008 closely mirrored the eventual election results. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee topped the December poll with 32% and went on to with the contest with 34% of the vote. Romney's poll figures also closely mirrored the election results. He garnered 26% in the poll compared to 25% in the January contest.
The Register poll surveyed 602 likely caucus goers between Dec. 27 and Dec. 30 with a sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. The sampling error for the final two days of polling was plus or minus 5.6 percentage points.
- CNN's Paul Steinhauser and Gabriella Schwarz contributed to this report.
These guys will never improve our country. They are too divisive and will only rule in favor of their comrades. The problem with our country is not the politicians so much as the people. We are the product of decades of poor education. Now we are reaping the fruits of that failure. If we improve education we might have a better nation in 30 or 40 years.
I see the sharks have come to feast on the American People.
Let's bring back the middle class! That's not going to happen with any of these guys.
Probably won't happen with our current president either. No politician can change the congress or the entire political structure that plagues us.
Does anyone, other than a few in Iowa, really give a hoot who wins or who loses?
What an incredible message Ron Paul has-and is resonating with the American people in spite of being despised with the Republican establishment and ignored in the media. This is history in the making!
It might be Romney -vs- Paul in Iowa, but it's Obamao -vs- Freedom in America. I vote for America.
RON PAUL 2012!!!
Rep. Ron Paul of Texas will win first vote in Iowa by very narrow margin. Gov. Mitt Romney will lose 2% point in next two days.
It is 24% vs. 22% now. by Monday it will switch to 22% vs 23%.
Houston, Texas, USA.
I hope it's Paul. Only Romney stands a chance of beating Obama.
LOL, now that Ron Paul has a chance to win, all of a sudden the Iowa caucus doesn't matter. People are starting to wake up, and the media is running scared.
Screw Rick Santorum his a war monger RP 2012
Vote Ron Paul for President.
Romney is another AIPAC owned politician
Romney, Paul and Santorum? Could there be a bigger split in the GOP. Three candidates on top with such different ideas on top. You've got your conventional candidate in Romney, your fiscal crazy in Paul and your social crazy in Santorum. I know a lot of libertarians like Paul but, his ideas aren't workable; look good on paper though. Santorum wants to run your bedroom and that may appeal to the religious nuts but won't appeal to the independents he'll need to win a general election. Romney just sits back, acts normal and waits for people like Newt, Perry and Bachman to shoot themselves in the foot. I'm for Obama so, I hope one of the nuts wins. Romney is the only guy in the race that could give Obama a run for his money.
Mitt Romney has all the bells and whistles, a Juris Doctor and MBA from Harvard with honors, Class Valedictorian. Great job saving Massachusetts and the Salt Lake City Olympics. Brought us Staples, Timberland and Dominos Pizza among others and his character and integrity is above reproach.
He even saved a fourteen year old daughter of one of his employees missing in NYC by shutting down Bain and Company flying his fifty people to Manhattan, pulled in 200 volunteers and a private detective and they found her in New Jersey in a nest of bad druggies. She and her dad credit Romney with saving her life.
On merit Romney is the man, without a peer.
Really? Ron Paul is running for President? With the close to black out by the media, I wasn't sure.
He's actually getting consideration from me, so I'm glad to see he's performing well enough that he can't be ignored.
(Lifelong Dem shopping the other side this time, ONLY RP is getting considered now from GOP for me.)
Des Moines Register came out in favor of Romney last week. They then conducted a poll that places Romney in the front and shifts momentum to the goober Santorum. Turns out, however, that Des Moines Register is partly owned by Bain Capital.
I pray that America is above bigotry...
The caucuses will be a bloodbath. But to the victor go the spoils! I won't pretend to understand what supporters of Romney see in him. Maybe they're afraid no one else can beat Obama. I don't know. I only know that I support Dr Paul and my conscience is clear. I hope everyone else can say the same about their own candidate.
First you ignore us, then you attack us, Then We WIN!
Ron Paul doing that well – I would crack up if he won it, the GOP wouldn't know what to do, might implode. I like the guy, heck, he's the only one from that party I would vote for of the current crop. This is a goofy year for the GOP, worse than Palin times.
Ron Paul to win and thirsty in 2012.
Really happy Bachmann is last. Why hasn't God helped her? I thought He told her to run?? I'll tell you why, God is compassionate and Bachmann is not.
so none are suing to be placed higher yet?
Good for Ron Paul. He's a straightforward guy who actually answers questions asked of him. Romney just tells you what you want to hear and will switch his views at the drop of a hat. While I don't specifically love everything about the candidates, I will vote for Ron Paul. Someone with the voice of reason over the pot debate needs to be in office....because that's what I BELIEVE in. Not some sky fairy.
Don't know who's worse, Ron Paul or his obnoxious followers.