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2012: Poll: Paul leads in Iowa

The Des Moines Register notes that Iowans are being bombarded with ads.

PAUL: A new Iowa State University/Gazette/KCRG poll shows Ron Paul is the new front runner in Iowa: Paul 28% (up from 20 a month ago), Gingrich 25 (up from 5), Romney 18 (up from 16), Perry 11 (up from 8), Bachmann 7 (down from 8), Santorum 5 (same), Can’t decide 5 (down from 8). The previous ISU poll, conducted Nov. 1-13, had Herman Cain in the lead 25%-20% over Ron Paul with Gingrich in sixth. The latest poll, which surveyed the same people as the last poll, shows the plurality of Cain’s supporters (38%) went to Gingrich, then Paul (20%), then Perry 14%. Romney got 9% of them. (Caveat: The poll was conducted over 10 days. The pollsters note that Paul’s support appears to be the most locked in, and that the other candidates’ appear to be soft. The anecdotal evidence suggest Gingrich’s support may not be this strong any longer.)

“On a day when several Republican presidential candidates were touting endorsements from socially conservative leaders in Iowa and nationally, Texas Representative Ron Paul made clear why he was not getting them,” the Boston Globe writes. “Asked about Bob Vander Plaats, president of the Iowa Family Leader group who today endorsed former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, Paul said, ‘He had decided I wasn’t willing to nationalize enough and I’ve stuck to my guns…. The founders were right in letting states sort out the more difficult problems.’ On both gay marriage and abortion, Paul differs from most of his Republican rivals and from much of the conservative Republican base in not urging a federal law either to define marriage or ban abortion. It is particularly in the area of social issues that Paul’s libertarian leanings are evident.”

PERRY: “Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindall told Iowans here today that Texas Gov. Rick Perry offers the best choice among Republican candidates for the presidency,” The Des Moines Register notes. More Jindal: “Most importantly, he is a governor who has led. He will not need on-the-job training,” Jindal said.

ROMNEY: The Boston Globe’s lead on Romney’s closing argument: “Mitt Romney, in a speech tonight that his campaign billed as his “closing argument” before Republican voters start selecting their nominee, focused almost exclusively on President Obama and cast the election as ‘a battle for America’s soul.’”

SANTORUM: “Influential social conservative Bob Vander Plaats today endorsed former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, a blow to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who has been trying to gain support from socially conservative voters,” the Boston Globe writes.

But: “Division amid Iowa’s evangelicals is so deep that it’s extremely unlikely they will unite behind one candidate in the two weeks before the caucuses, evangelical leaders agreed Tuesday, after the influential Family Leader organization announced it would not endorse in the race,” the Des Moines Register reports.