10:04am

Sun January 1, 2012
It's All Politics

Most GOP Candidates Begin 2012 Where They Spent Lots Of Time In 2011: In Iowa

Most of the Republican presidential candidates are stumping in Iowa on this last Sunday before the state's caucuses.

The only major contenders not in the state are Rep. Ron Paul, who is spending New Year's Day at home in Texas but returning to Iowa for several events Monday, and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who remains ensconced in New Hampshire, where the scene shifts after Tuesday night.

The final pre-caucus Des Moines Register poll shows former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Paul essentially tied among likely caucusgoers – at 24 percent and 22 percent respectively — with the newly resurgent Rick Santorum at 15 percent.

But the poll was conducted over four days last week – Tuesday through Friday — and the Register notes that in the final two days, Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, was getting more support than Paul.

The Register's political columnist Kathie Obradovich explains:

Santorum started at 10 percent on Tuesday night among likely GOP caucusgoers. He rocketed to 22 percent by the end of polling Friday, just 1 percentage point behind Mitt Romney. The four-day average puts him in third place at 15 percent, but he's on fire, while Romney has held steady and Ron Paul has gone cold.

J. Ann Selzer, the president of Selzer & Co., which conducts the poll for the Register, has an interesting deep dive into the various turnout scenarios that could change Tuesday's outcome. She also includes this dose of political perspective, quoting former professional baseball player and manager Yogi Berra: "It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.