Poll shows Romney, Paul in Iowa dead heat

A new Iowa poll released Monday shows GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Ron Paul in a virtual tie, one day before the state's caucuses.

An InsiderAdvantage poll finds Romney with the support of 23 percent of likely Iowa caucus-goers, ahead of Texas Rep. Ron Paul at 22 percent.

The poll finds surging Rick Santorum in third with 18 percent, followed by Newt Gingrich at 16 percent and Texas Gov. Rick Perry with 10 percent support. No other GOP candidate reaches double-digit figures.

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Despite the slight edge for Romney, the survey highlights how tight the GOP race is with the caucuses only a day away.

A Des Moines Register poll released Saturday night similarly showed Romney with a slim lead over Paul and Santorum. The Register found Romney with 24 percent support, two points ahead of Paul.

The top-tier candidates — Romney, Paul and Santorum — criss-crossed the state Monday hoping to gain the support of late-breaking voters. Polls have suggested a fluid race, with some surveys suggesting that more than 40 percent of Iowa voters could still change their minds before voting on Tuesday.

A Public Policy Polling survey released on Sunday night also showed a tighter three-man race, with Paul holding a razor-thin lead of one percentage point over Romney. PPP showed Paul at 20 percent, Romney at 19 and Santorum at 18 percent, all in a virtual dead heat within the poll's 2.7 percent margin of error.

Santorum has risen in the polls, thanks to the support of Iowa evangelical voters — many of whom are looking for an alternative to Romney, who has failed to solidify support from social conservatives. Santorum spent Monday speaking to packed campaign crowds and directing sharp attacks at his top-tier rivals in hopes of capitalizing on his recent momentum.

Gingrich, who places fourth in the InsiderAdvantage poll, has downplayed expectations, telling reporters that he does not expect to win in Iowa and blaming his rivals for their "volume of negativity." Gingrich was hit in Iowa by a barrage of attack ads from his rivals Paul and Romney and from political action committees backing those candidates. He said on Monday that he would continue to contest the GOP race in New Hampshire and South Carolina.

The surveys showing Romney within striking distance of a caucus victory come after his campaign spent much of the last year showing a reluctance to commit resources to Iowa and downplaying expectations in the Hawkeye State.

Romney's advisers had been hesitant to commit to campaigning in the state after spending $10 million in 2008 and losing the caucuses to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who rallied support from social conservative voters.

The InsiderAdvantage poll was conducted on Jan. 1 and has a 3.5 percent margin of error.

—This story was updated at 8:29 p.m.