Poll: Santorum Could Win Iowa

It appears that Iowa conservatives have found their man and that Mitt might lose the first vote of the 2012 GOP season. A new Des Moines Register poll indicates that Ron Paul's support is now collapsing and non-Mitt voters are coalescing around Rick Santorum.

In four days of polling, Romney leads at 24 percent, Paul has 22 percent and Rick Santorum, 15 percent.

But here's the big news - check out the breakdown of the days!

But if the final two days of polling stand alone, the order reshuffles: Santorum elbows out Paul for second.

What makes Santorum’s growth spurt particularly striking is his last-second rise: He averaged 10 points after the first two nights of polling, but doubled that during the second two nights. Looking just at the final day of polling, he was just one point down from Romney’s 23 percent on Friday.

Santorum showed no signs of life just a couple of weeks ago.

On Wednesday, the minute a Time/CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll came out showing Santorum in third with 16 percent, it was off to the races for him, said Republican strategist David Polyansky of New York, who worked for Mike Huckabee’s campaign four years ago and for Bachmann’s 2012 campaign until September. He is currently unaligned.

That poll gave Santorum enough validation that the public could accept his candidacy.

Santorum has built his campaign around Iowa, and his Iowa campaign around talking openly about his social conservatism, something the rest of the field has avoided - preparing him well to become the conservative choice. That creates the possibility that he could win South Carolina and Florida, potentially taking three of January's five contests.