The latest CNN/Time/ORC poll results look good for Mitt Romney. He narrowly leads Ron Paul in Iowa, 25 percent to 22 percent. He has a bigger lead in New Hampshire, beating Paul 44 percent to 17 percent with Newt Gingrich in third at 16 percent.
Rick Santorum is finally surging in Iowa, after other polls have shown him with high favorables. Santorum finishes third with 16 percent. Newt Gingrich is at 14 percent and Rick Perry is at 11 percent. Michele Bachmann is at 9 percent.
The Iowa poll appears to include only registered Republicans, suggesting that Paul could still beat Romney in the Hawkeye State even if those numbers hold. It's also unclear how much organizational muscle Romney is committing to Iowa at this point, while Paul is strong on the ground.
But the takeway is that no candidate who could make Romney's life difficult by consolidating the South or, in Jon Hunstman's case, contesting for establishment support appears to be in a very good position. Santorum doesn't have the organization and it is hard to see Paul beating Romney in South Carolina or Florida, which may be ground zero for any conservative insurgent.
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