Online Staff Report
U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, now leads the race for the Republican nomination for president — in Iowa.
Iowa’s Jan. 3, 2012, caucuses kick off the 2012 primary election season. Recent polls in Iowa had shown Paul gaining ground on the race’s frontrunner, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Two Iowa polls released Dec. 19 now show Paul leading by 3 and 6 points, respectively.
An Insider Advantage poll has Paul at 24 percent; former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at 18 percent; Texas Gov. Rick Perry at 16 percent; Gingrich at 13 percent; U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., at 10 percent; former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman at 4 percent; and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., at 3 percent.
Meantime, Public Policy Polling has Paul at 23 percent; Romney at 20 percent; Gingrich at 14 percent; Perry, Bachmann and Santorum at 10 percent; and Huntsman at 4 percent.
Despite his gains in Iowa, Paul has failed to gain much ground in national polls. In a Gallup Tracking poll released Dec. 19, Paul remains third at 11 percent, trailing Gingrich at 26 percent and Romney at 24 percent.
Some have suggested a Paul victory in Iowa would deliver a blow to Gingrich’s campaign, as Romney is expected to win the next primary of the season, the Jan. 10, 2012, New Hampshire primary.
Iowa’s caucuses are the first test in the primary election season. George W. Bush in 2000 and Barack Obama in 2008 are the only non-incumbent candidates to win their party’s caucus in Iowa and go on to win the general election.
Paul, 76, favors a limited government and is making his third run at the presidency. He first ran as a Libertarian in 1988, then as a Republican in 2008. In the 2008 primary, Paul failed to win a single state, but finished second in 10 states and third in 17 states.