Elections 2012: Mitt Romney Leads in Iowa, According to New CNN Poll

A new poll of Iowa voters shows former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney surging to the lead in the Hawkeye State.

A new poll of Iowa voters shows former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney surging to the lead in the Hawkeye State as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich plummets and former Sen. Rick Santorum finally catches some momentum. Photo: Mitt Romney/Flickr

Romney leads in the CNN poll of 452 Republicans who are likely to caucus on Jan. 3, with 25 percent, ahead of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), who is in second with 22 percent.

According to the Huff Post, the poll was conducted by CNN from Dec. 21 to 27. Both Romney and Paul’s numbers have improved over the previous poll, conducted by CNN in the first week of December. In that poll, Romney had the support of 20 percent of respondents, and Paul had the support of 17 percent.

Reacting tonight for the first time to the latest Iowa poll numbers that show him leading the pack of GOP candidates in the Hawkeye State, Mitt Romney remained coy about his frontrunner status, saying only that the numbers are “more encouraging than some.”

“There’s so many polls,” said Romney, as he shook hands with a line of voters that snaked around the perimeter of the plastic manufacturer where he held a town hall this evening. “I look at all the polls.”

The former Massachusetts governor has carefully tempered expectations in Iowa all year, visiting only a handful of times and saving the bulk of his television spending for the final weeks of the race.

But as a crowd of conservative opponents keep the anti-Romney vote divided, his odds of a victory in the state that humbled him four years ago have never been better.

Romney launched a bus tour Tuesday and suggested on a conference call with Iowans this week that he’ll be in the state for New Year’s Eve.

Romney’s camp has upped its spending in the Quad Cities market, sources familiar with the purchase told Politico. His team has dropped a collection of mail pieces, both positive about Romney and negative about the perceived closest alternative — Newt Gingrich.

Asked specifically about his lead in today’s CNN poll, which has him five points ahead of Ron Paul, Romney spoke to the frequent fluctuations inherent in polls.

“Some have me down by five, some have me up, who knows?” he said, shrugging.

“We’re moving upward, though,” he said. “That’s a good sign.”

At a meet-and-greet with voters earlier in the afternoon in Clinton, Romney was forced to speak twice to avoid disappointing voters who had been turned away from the event because it was at capacity.

Bounding off his campaign bus, his wife Ann by his side, Romney himself seemed surprised by the outpouring of support, ABC reports.

“They’ve been impressive. Absolutely extraordinary,” Romney said of the crowds.

Yesterday Mitt Romney also pledged to cut spending for public television while campaigning in Iowa on Wednesday, saying that Big Bird should be supported by advertisements and that the arts will need to get more private donations to stay afloat.

“We’re not going to kill Big Bird,” Romney said on Wednesday afternoon during a campaign stop in Clinton, Iowa.

The former Massachusetts governor made the promise while touting his plans to drastically cut federal spending, under which he would slash $500 billion dollars a year from the budget by the end of his first term.

“Big Bird is going to have advertisements, all right?” said Romney. “And we’re going to have endowments for the arts and humanities, but they’re going to be paid for by private charity, not by taxpayers.”

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