The latest CNN poll of Iowa and New Hampshire Republicans show Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, in the lead in both states. The New Hampshire poll confirms Romney's long-held advantage over his GOP opponents at 44 percent, 9 points up from a similar poll conducted by CNN earlier this month.
In Iowa, where he has struggled to break from the pack, Romney leads his rivals at 25 percent, with Texas congressman Ron Paul in close second with 22 percent support. Both Romney and Paul are up 5 points from CNN's poll of Iowa earlier in December.
Rick Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania, may be seeing his 99-county tour of Iowa paying off, jumping 11 points to reach 16 percent support, while former House speaker Newt Gingrich has faced a precipitous fall, getting only 14 percent of Iowa Republicans, down from 33 percent.
Here's more from CNN:
The survey suggests that turnout on January 3 could be crucial in determining who comes out on top in the caucuses.
"Santorum and Paul may benefit from lower turnout, since they have an edge over Romney among likely voters who say that 'nothing at all' would prevent them from attending the caucus," says Holland. "On the other hand, Romney appears to have an edge among those who attended the caucuses four years ago - he did finish in second place in 2008 – and Romney does best among older Iowans."
As a result, the poll suggests it's difficult to predict exactly whose supporters will show up at the caucuses and whose supporters will stay at home.
"Add in the fact that nearly half of Iowa respondents say they are undecided or could change their minds and it looks like Iowa is a wide open contest," adds Holland.
Read John McCormack's story for THE WEEKLY STANDARD on the Pennsylvania Republican's last stand in the Hawkeye State.