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Iowa Poll has Cain and Romney neck-and-neck, Bachmann far behind

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The Iowa Poll, conducted for the Des Moines Register newspaper since 1943, is an important indicator of how the candidates are doing in a state that holds the Republican Party’s first event in the selection process (Jan. 3). Doing well there can give a significant boost to a campaign headed for early primary elections in New Hampshire (Jan. 10), South Carolina (Jan. 21), and Florida (Jan. 31).

The results, which were gathered Oct. 23-29 and released Saturday night, are particularly disappointing for Bachmann and Santorum. In the last such poll, Bachmann with 22 percent was just a single point behind frontrunner Romney, and in August she won the Iowa straw poll with 29 percent.

Since then, she’s been overshadowed as the presumptive tea party favorite by Cain and Perry, and she’s had campaign problems – including misstatements she’s had to explain and the resignation of her staff in New Hampshire.

In terms of the Iowa Poll, Cain and Bachmann are mirror images of each other. Since the last Iowa Poll in June, she’s dropped 14 points and he’s surged ahead 13 points.

Santorum has never broken out of the second tier of GOP presidential hopefuls, but he’s campaigned heavily in Iowa, spending more time there than any other candidate and visiting 70 counties on his way toward his goal of visiting all 99 counties in the state.

Romney and Cain, on the other hand, have spent little time in Iowa so far, but that’s likely to change.

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