Des Moines Register Poll: Gingrich 25%, Paul 18%, Romney 16%

The 2012 Iowa GOP caucuses are likely to be a tightly contested affair. While Gingrich leads the field, his ground game has much to be desired. Jennifer Jacobs at the Des Moines Register has more:

Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich has carved out a clear lead in what’s become a three-candidate race in Iowa, according to The Des Moines Register’s new Iowa Poll.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul has risen into second place, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has slid to third with just over a month before the Iowa caucuses kick off voting in the presidential nominating process.

Gingrich has support from 25 percent of likely Republican caucusgoers, Paul is at 18 percent and Romney at 16 percent.

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann ties with retired Georgia business executive Herman Cain at 8 percent.

The poll was conducted before Cain suspended his candidacy on Saturday.

Rounding out the field: Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania at 6 percent each, and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman at 2 percent.

Selzer & Co. of Des Moines conducted the poll of 401 likely Republican caucusgoers Nov. 27-30. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

The race is far from settled. Eleven percent of likely caucusgoers are uncommitted to a first choice, and 60 percent are still willing to change their mind.

One notable finding: The results show Gingrich’s ascendancy has the potential to grow, pollster J. Ann Selzer said.

More respondents choose Gingrich as their second choice than any other candidate. Together, 43 percent of likely caucusgoers pick him as first or second.

The Iowa caucuses are scheduled for Jan. 3.

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