As we discussed in late October, some polls matter more than others. In Iowa, the Des Moines Register‘s Iowa Poll is widely considered the gold standard for Hawkeye State polling, and therefore gets considerably more attention than other surveys in the state.
And with that in mind, with just 30 days until the Iowa caucuses, here’s what the race for the Republican presidential nomination looks like the Hawkeye State:
1. Newt Gingrich: 25% (up 18 points since late October)
2. Ron Paul: 18% (up 6 points)
3. Mitt Romney: 16% (down 6 points)
4. Herman Cain: 8% (down 15 points)
5. Michele Bachmann: 8% (no change)
6. Rick Perry: 6% (down 1 point)
7. Rick Santorum: 6% (up 1 point)
8. Jon Huntsman: 2% (up 1 point)
The poll, of course, was conducted before Cain’s announcement that he’s suspending his campaign.
Five weeks ago, Romney and Cain were effectively tied atop the Iowa Poll. Now, one is out of the race and the other has slipped to third. That should be especially discouraging to Romney, who has seen his support slip in Iowa while he makes more of an effort to win the state. In other words, Romney was doing better among Iowa Republicans when they saw less of him.
As for Gingrich, who has seen his support among Iowans nearly quadruple in recent months, he does not appear to have reached his ceiling. The Register‘s analysis this morning noted that “more respondents choose Gingrich as their second choice than any other candidate,” and that the former Speaker “will likely benefit” from picking up Cain supporters.
But before anyone starts penciling Gingrich in as the likely victor in Iowa, it’s worth keeping in mind that winning the caucuses requires an excellent ground game — and Gingrich’s operation is awful. Those who’ve wanted to volunteer in support of Newt’s campaign haven’t been able to do so because there was nowhere for them to go. Gingrich, who hasn’t run a single ad in the state, didn’t even have a campaign office in Iowa until a few days ago.
The Iowa Poll suggests Gingrich has a remarkable opportunity to win the Iowa caucuses in four weeks. Whether he’ll have the operation to pull it off, however, is very much in doubt.