Poll shows Iowa GOP battle a three-way race

The turbulent battle among Republicans in the Iowa caucus is now a three-horse race, with former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum surging in the contest’s final hours.

A Public Policy Polling survey released Sunday shows Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) with a hair-thin lead over Mitt Romney and Santorum.

The poll showed Paul with 20 percent of support among Republican voters in Iowa, with Romney at 19 percent and Santorum at 18 percent.

{mosads}Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who had surged around Thanksgiving before Santorum’s stunning post-Christmas rise, was fourth with 14 percent. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who leaped to front-runner status in many national polls when he first entered the race, stood at 10 percent. 

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann received support from 8 percent of those surveyed, leading only two former governors, Jon Huntsman (Utah) and Buddy Roemer (Louisiana). Those two longshot candidates stood at 4 percent and 2 percent, respectively.

The PPP poll comes on the heels of Saturday’s final Des Moines Register poll which showed Romney with 24 percent support edging Paul by two percentage points, within the surveys’ four point margin of error.

Santorum took third place with 15 percent ahead of Gingrich at 14 percent, Perry at 11 and Bachmann at 7 percent. 

Public Policy Polling, in a Sunday press release, said the Iowa caucus “is headed for a photo finish.”

PPP polled 1,340 likely Republican caucus voters on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 and the survey has a 2.7 margin of error.

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