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The latest NBC-Marist poll shows that Rick Perry and Rick Santorum are now duking it out for third place in Iowa and Newt Gingrich has fallen to fifth, while Mitt Romney and Ron Paul are still battling for the top slot.
Meanwhile, Michele Bachmann continues to struggle with a campaign implosion– two of her aides have now left her campaign.
Paul and Romney have sewn together coalitions of independents and conservatives of all stripes in Iowa, and social conservatives are split over whether to support Perry, Santorum or Gingrich.
Scott Rasmussen, founder of the polling firm Rasmussen Reports, is a pollster that Republicans love to quote, and he has his finger on the pulse of likely Republican voters.
His polling shows that Romney leads among Republican voters in Iowa, but Ron Paul leads among independents in Iowa.
Tea Party Republicans
Rasmussen’s polling is also shedding light on how Tea Party supporters will vote. He says that a theme in this election season has been that the Tea Party is demanding their way or the high way, saying they will only vote for a candidate that meets their ideological standards. But his polling shows something different.
“Actually, when we poll Tea Party voters, 90 percent plus of them say they’re gonna vote for whoever the Republicans nominate… They may not be happy with DC Republicans, but they really dislike Barack Obama and want to see him out as the first order of business,” he told Here & Now‘s Robin Young.
Rasmussen says that, “It’s the more establishment Republicans who are saying if it’s not our guy we’re not going to support the candidate,” he said.
He added that still seven out of 10 of the mainstream Republicans say they’ll vote for any Republican over Barack Obama.
How The Establishment Sees It
“The one Republican candidate that the establishment would be least likely to go along with is Ron Paul,” he said. Rasmussen says that Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich are also seen as less electable.
Rasmussen says that any resistance the establishment had to Mitt Romney has ended.
“Mitt Romney and John Huntsman are the two the establishment could probably live with,” he said.