This morning, Rasmussen Reports released the results from its first telephone survey of likely Iowa primary voters. With the Ames Straw Poll just 6 days away, the results are certainly worth a look:
The first Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Iowa's Likely Caucus Participants shows that Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann attracts 22% support, while former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney earn 21%. Just slightly behind is Texas Congressman Ron Paul at 16%, followed by Texas Governor Rick Perry at 12% and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty at 11%.
As expected, Michele Bachmann and Mitt Romney lead the pack. But notably absent from the top five is businessman Herman Cain. At just 4%, he appears to have lost all his momentum from earlier this summer. Originally one of few Tea Party alternatives to Mitt Romney, the entrance of Bachmann and (pending) Perry into the race certainly did not help his prospects. He recently said that finishing less than third at Ames will have a significant impact on how his campaign will proceed.
But most interesting, perhaps, is what the report had to say about Congressman Ron Paul:
Overall, just 28% of potential Iowa Caucus participants are absolutely certain of how they will vote, while the rest could change their mind. Among those who are certain of their vote, Ron Paul is on top at 27%.
Just 49% of Paul's supporters would vote for the Republican nominee if their man does not win the nomination. That's well below the total for other candidates.
As it has in the past, such a loyal and organized following will likely play to Paul's favor at Ames this weekend (he won the CPAC and RLC straw polls earlier this year). But it is important to remember that only Iowa residents can vote in the Ames poll, making it a (marginally) better gauge of a candidate's real level of support in this important primary state.
Tim Pawlenty, who poured so many resources into Iowa, needs a good showing at Ames arguably more than any other candidate. Though the straw poll is not scientific, it is a huge momentum builder (as it was for Mike Huckabee in 2007), and a low finish can do nothing but hurt his already-ailing campaign. Indeed, before this Rasmussen poll (which places him at 5th place), he was consistently in third behind Romney and Bachmann.