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Comparing Iowa polls: 2007 and now

This weekend’s much-anticipated Des Moines Register poll gave a positive jolt to Rep. Michele Bachmann, a negative one to Tim Pawlenty, and cause for some cautious optimism to Mitt Romney. But with 224 days until the Iowa caucuses, candidates can take caution or comfort in looking back at how the competition was shaping up this time before the last round of nominating contests.

Romney, now the frontrunner for the 2012 race with 23 percent support in the Register poll, was at 30 percent in the same poll in May 2007. At the time, he was running well ahead of the eventual GOP nominee, Sen. John McCain, who garnered the support of 18 percent of that poll’s respondents.

But, as First Read pointed out this morning, the well-known Romney may be bumping up against a ceiling in the Hawkeye State. His unfavorable rating now is 38 percent, with 52 percent giving him a favorable rating. Compare that to his sky-high 72-to-13 percent net positive four years ago -- numbers that are closer to where native Iowan Michele Bachmann’s are now.

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who clocked in at a disappointing six percent in the weekend poll, is taking comfort in the fact that the eventual winner of the 2008 GOP caucuses – former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee – sat at just four percent in the Des Moines Register survey in 2007. (It may sting a little bit, though, that he’s running slightly BEHIND where short-timer Gov. Tommy Thompson was – seven percent – this time four years ago.)