DES MOINES--GOP White House hopeful Mitt Romney leads the Des Moines Register final pre-Iowa caucus poll, with rival Rick Santorum rising, according to the poll, released Saturday night in advance of Tuesday's first-in-the-nation vote.
The Des Moines Register poll story is HERE.
The top numbers:
24 percent Mitt Romney
22 percent Ron Paul
15 percent Rick Santorum
12 percent Newt Gingrich
11 percent Rick Perry
7 percent Michele Bachmann
The poll was taken Tuesday through Friday. The Register notes that the results are even more promising for Santorum from the snapshot provided by the last two days of the poll.
Just in the last two days:
24 percent Romney
21 percent Santorum
18 percent Paul
Campaigning in Pella, Iowa on Saturday afternoon outside the library, Santorum told the crowd "don't pay attention to the national polls," surveys where he has barely registered in the months leading up to the Tuesday Iowa caucus.
Without mentioning his rivals, Santorum asked voters to "don't defer. Lead. ....Go out and do what you think is right" in the Tuesday vote, warning against "a pyrrhic victory" that is "not a win."
Asked Santorum, again, "Be Bold. Lead and you will change not only the course of the race but the cause of this country."
The Register shows an electorate so fluid either Romney or Santorum can come in first Tuesday--especially if Gingrich continues to shed support and Bachmann backers want to find a stronger contender. Paul, while doing well in the poll must confront the issue of whether he is a viable national contender--especially as a newsletter he was associated with is becoming controversial because of its racist and anti-Semitic content.
Romney, if he does come in first or second in Iowa will score in a state he spent little time in, especially compared to Santorum and Bachmann. According to the Des Moines Register candidate tracker, Romney spent 16 days in Iowa with 31 events--the least of any major contender except for Jon Huntsman, who is skipping Iowa to focus on New Hampshire--and Santorum spent the most time, 102 days with 303 events.
Romney has held a solid lead in the Jan. 8 New Hampshire primary. Romney may be unstoppable if he wins Iowa and New Hampshire--especially since the others do not have organizational strength in other states. Gingrich and Perry failed to get on the Virginia ballot.