It's five days before Christmas, and let's admit it, for Mitt Romney, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) is the gift that keeps on giving.

Romney may have lined up endorsements from the Des Moines Register, Sen. Mark KirkMark Steven Kirk10 top Republicans who continue to deny the undeniable GOP senator says he doesn't remember signing 2016 letter urging 'reform' of Ukraine prosecutor's office The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation MORE (R-Ill.) and former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.), but Paul's lead in Iowa polls is worth far more. Indeed, the more people who approve of Paul — instead of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) — the less of a threat there is that Gingrich can block Romney's long, bumpy and bloody road to the nomination.

Also helping Romney in Iowa will be Rep. Michele BachmannMichele Marie BachmannKlobuchar urges CNN town hall audience: 'That's when you guys are supposed to cheer, OK?' Michele Bachmann praises Trump: Americans will 'never see a more godly, biblical president' Will Biden lead a 'return to normalcy' in 2020? MORE (R-Minn.), who is gaining support nationally, and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), who can boast of campaigning in all of Iowa's 99 counties and who today won the endorsement of Bob Vander Plaats, a key social conservative in Iowa who runs the Family Leader. (The group, torn over Gingrich, declined to endorse, so Vander Plaats made a personal one for Santorum.)

In the new Washington Post/ABC News poll, Gingrich and Romney are tied with 30 percent support each, but the findings are telling about what could happen once the Iowa results — and then New Hampshire — begin to sort the field. According to the Post, Romney not only has broken 30 percent for the first time since the summer, but he has a 10-point lead over Gingrich on electability. Though Gingrich beats Romney out by 14 points as the candidate considered "very conservative," they are tied on the question of who best represents the voters on the issues and who best represents the core values of the Republican Party. For Romney that is good news, plain and simple. This is the first poll that seems to indicate the resistance to him within the GOP primary electorate is shrinking instead of growing. Gingrich fares well in the poll as the person with the best resume to prepare him for the job of the presidency, yet Romney's private-sector experience is viewed just as strongly as a reason to support him.

Most critical finding — only a third of Republican voters are definitely settled on a candidate! And that makes two weeks in this GOP field — let's repeat it one more time — a really long time.


CAN GINGRICH HOLD A LEAD IN IOWA? Ask A.B. returns Jan. 5 as we look from the Iowa caucuses to the New Hampshire primary. Please join my weekly video Q&A by sending your questions and comments to askab@thehill.com. HAPPY HOLIDAYS and keep the questions coming in 2012!