(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.
Obama 2012 in this New Year – it's 2012 and we are about to bring it in right without any of the candidates from the right winning in November!!! Yes We Can!!
I am home and SAFE – and feeling GREAT!!!
why does the media not give ron paul a chance they ignore him and his great american ideas bring our military home and lets make usa usa like austraulia, canada, and all the other nations we cannot support israiel, and all the other countries WE NEED TO EITHER FLY OR FLAG AND PROTECT OUR BORDERS AND NOT GIVE ONE CENT TO ANY FOREIGN COUNTRY OR JUST ADMIT THAT WE NEED TO HANG TO FLAGS OURS AND ISRAELS FLAG PRAY GOD NO
Ron Paul got my vote.
And people thought Paul wasnt good enough in the last few elections... my my how the tables are turning.
Ron Paul 2012!
If Romney wins Iowa you will KNOW fraud has occurred by the status quo, corruption that PLAGUES our political system!!!
The MSM is part of that system and spews propaganda to push there corrupt agenda!!! "Their" polls show Romney eking out ahead, which is a lie (most young voters support Ron Paul and have cell phones which are NOT used for polling).
Next they report Romney wins after they pad his numbers. No one up rises because they think its legit, when in actuality its completely bogus and fixed. This is how Bush Jr. STOLE the election in 2000!
Our "democracy" is a LIE! Reports are already surfacing of efforts to move the tallying centers to hidden, undisclosed locations!
these calculations must have been done by the office of management and budget..they're always off a few million..good try though
Its going to be Santorum that ultimately runs against Obama. Course with the president barrelling down the road to all out war with Iran. I certainly feel for Santorum, he will be left in total chaos. What was it about Bush' warmongering that the Dems didnt like? Well here we go again boys and girls.
Go RON PAUL 2012, He can win, if we believe. Lets get rid of all this "he not electable BS the media is spitting out"
The man can win, and will!
Vote for Ron Paul in 2012!
Haven't these people read up on Ron Paul? He said we never should have fought Hitler, he says Iran isn't a threat. I wish the media could post what he's said in the past. Actually if people like Obama's dislike of Israel, than they'll like Ron Paul.
anybody wo would vote for Paul is an idiot.
Lord, please hurry and get the Iowa caucus over with. What the hell is a caucus anyway?
Imagine how well Ron Paul would do if the MSM treated him fairly! RP is leading in spite of the media!
Ron Paul for President. He is the best man for the job.
Does everyone agree with me?
As a lifelong registered Democrat I say: "Go Ron Paul!"
I have high hopes for Ron Paul in Iowa!!! We have the choice between someone consistent and someone who flip flops. They actually may be my two top choices but I hope Ron Paul does really well Tuesday!
Since the poll includes only registered Republicans with land-line phones (not cell phones) and Paul does considerably better with independents and those with cell phones (based on other polls), Paul likely has a solid lead over Romney.
Look at google trends. Type in Ron Paul, mitt Romney, newt Gingrich, Rick perry, etc. You will see a graph that shows the amount of searches for each candidate, and the news articles that relate, or don't relate. Pretty amazing when you see it. The media can't black him out forever.
you r trying to undermine Paul but people are supporting him if there will not be any fraud in election any more.
Paul in third place is not good. Looks like we're up for endless war and a decent into bankruptcy.
The GOBP wingnut/teabagger/Ron Paul trainwreck implosion continues full speed ahead.