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On the strength of the Des Moines Register Iowa Poll, Mitt Romney has taken the lead in the Iowa Composite Poll.

If this vote turns out as the Composite has it today, Romney could not be in a better position to win the nomination. Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich is facing the same fate as Rick Perry. Rick Santorum has momentum in Iowa, but no where else as he has focused his entire campaign there. It is very difficult to see how he has any path to the nomination without pulling out the win, with an enormous run of fundraising success to follow.

Second tier finishes by Perry and Bachmann should signal their time to exit the race. Huntsman should do the same after New Hampshire.

DMR: Romney leads Paul in Des Moines Register Iowa Poll; Santorum surges

Will this order hold? Can Paul’s much-vaunted ground-game make up the difference? Could Santorum shock the universe with a win of his own?

The final and often authoritative Des Moines Register Iowa Poll of “likely Republican caucusgoers” will be released tonight at 7:00 pm. Shortly thereafter, we will publish the updated PD Composite Poll: Iowa including the Register’s important poll. Meanwhile, the Obama campaign team fully expects its opponent to be Mitt Romney, highlighted by a Rasmussen poll earlier this week where Romney had a six point lead. On another front, one of the driving forces behind the Obama vote during the last election cycle was the youth vote. This CNN article speculates whether this advantage will continue as 44.7 percent of Americans between 16 and 29 are unemployed. Finally, on foreign policy, Iran has announced it plans today to test fire missiles in the Strait of Hormuz, an important transportation lane for oil

Welcome to the latest edition of's 2012 Power Rankings, the original tracking service of the race for the White House. The rankings are updated as circumstances warrant and are compiled by our Editors using wire reports, polls, campaign staffer scuttlebutt and confidential tips. The rankings may not be reprinted or quoted in any form without attribution to

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Is there time for one more surge before the Iowa caucus? The roller coaster ride that has been the GOP primary may see one last turn. Rick Santorum has seen his support triple almost overnight. Santorum has now passed Gingrich in the most recent Rasmussen Reports Iowa poll with 16% of the total vote. Romney and Paul still lead the pack with 23% each. With Gingrich’s nose dive, the anti-Romney vote is going in yet another direction. What is so interesting to me about these candidate surges is that they seem to come out of nowhere. Nothing prompted a rise in Santorum’s numbers except maybe he was just next in line to receive a bump. It is as if one man in a back room somewhere is controlling the entire primary and after he gets bored with one candidate in the spotlight, he switches to another one.
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The Iowa Composite Poll will be updated each day through Tuesday when Iowans cast the first votes of this cycle.

Rick Santorum has now moved into the third position in the Iowa Composite. However, even if he does come in third, then what?

Meanwhile the battle for first is a dead heat. As Jason said on Fox and Friends this morning, if Romney takes Iowa after virtually not competing there and focusing on New Hampshire, then wins the latter handily, the race might be over. On the other hand, if Ron Paul wins, it will be very curious to see how much momentum might shift the man who might be the most polarizing of the Republican candidates.

Karl Rove has made a few political predictions for 2012.  What say you?

  1. Republicans will keep the U.S. House, albeit with their 25-seat majority slightly reduced. In the 10 presidential re-elections since 1936, the party in control of the White House has added House seats in seven contests and lost them in three. The average gain has been 12 seats. The largest pickup was 24 seats in 1944—but President Barack Obama is no FDR, despite what he said in his recent “60 Minutes” interview. Read more

If the latest edition of the Power Rankings tip sheet or today’s national PD Composite release aren’t enough for you, here is your open thread. Kelly Clarkson supports Ron Paul and people freak out. Janet Napolitano continues her efforts to get Americans to turn people in to the TSA Thought Police, targeting National Hockey League fans. On the same day, Jason Wright and Alaina Segovia both make appearances on Fox News. An illuminati plot? Finally, there are many signs of ongoing economic recovery in the US. Here are a few of them.

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Mitt Romney leads the PD Composite by himself for the first time since its inception as Newt Gingrich’s drop in the polls has mirrored Herman Cain and Rick Perry before him. Romney’s long-term national race strategy seems to be working in his favor as he is the only consistent candidate in the top-tier.

The 17.6 point gap between second place Gingrich and the rest of the field is quite significant, with Ron Paul barely making it over his normal 8-10 percent range on the back of his significant Iowa popularity. The rest of the field is below 10 percent and will need miracle finishes in one or more of the early voting states to give their campaigns a jolt of life. Otherwise, we may be well looking at only three horses in this race within a month.

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Team Romney released the following ad. “Freedom And Opportunity” flashes farm, technology and patriotic images. Images meant to play well in Iowa. Note the wind blowing through Romney’s no more stoic hair. Will it get the job done?

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(Apologies for the crass and quick reference to “Richard.”

There is an idea floating around that Newt Gingrich will absolutely “crucify the President in the debates.” This thought is so prevalent that some people actually want Newt to win the Republican nomination just so they can have the satisfaction of watching someone put the arrogant, cold, condescending Obama in his place. Never mind that Obama is polling strongly ahead of Gingrich in a head-to-head matchup. These people are willing to take their chances in the general election just so they can see Newt mop the floor with Obama in the debates.

But the thought that Gingrich would “mop the floor” with Obama in a debate is a strained notion, at best.
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Newt Gingrich’s rise and fall in Iowa has been far more pronounced than his national polling move. At one point he was at a high of 32.9% in the PD Composite: Iowa. Today he is clearly in third place at 16.6% and being threatened to be overcome by Rick Santorum.

Meanwhile, Ron Paul has consistently moved up in the Composite since early November and today is the leader, though Mitt Romney is only 3.1 points behind.

With less than a week to go until the Iowa caucuses, the story lines are: Can Paul actually win? After virtually ignoring the state, will a second place or higher finish by Mitt Romney springboard his campaign? Can Rick Santorum finish in the top three or even in second? How far will Gingrich ultimately drop and how will that effect his campaign?

A guest post from Edgar Harris.

Many of you may have heard of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). SOPA is a new bill that recently came out of the House Judiciary Committee. Its intent is obvious, to put a stop to online piracy. In particular SOPA “specifically targets foreign website primarily dedicated to illegal activity or foreign websites that market themselves as such”.

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In less than two minutes, Mitt Romney twice claims his healthcare plan in Massachusetts is based on “conservative principles”. Congressman Jeff Flake and former congressman and now governor of Idaho Butch Otter claim Newt Gingrich did in fact lobby Congress in 2003, contrary to Gingrich’s claim of no lobbying after 1998. Finally, Michelle Bachmann’s Iowa campaign chairman suddenly resigned and joined the Paul campaign.

Merry Christmas! Happy Chanukah! Happy New Year! Joyous Iowa Caucuses!

Well, maybe the last one isn’t quite traditional for this time of the year, but it is just about time to get your political geek on with the eve of the first votes of the 2012 Presidential cycle careening towards us.

For those of you trying to make some kind of sense out of what to expect in Iowa on Tuesday, good luck, because there is not much that has made sense. You have had one candidate that has been perceived by many as the front runner heading into this cycle, and he’s been consistently one of the top tier candidates the entire time.

But Mitt Romney stinks of John McCain to many conservatives in the Republican Party and he certainly does not have a lot of appeal to the Tea Party wing of the GOP either. But Romney is also the only candidate who’s numbers haven’t spiked like the eggnog at the company holiday party, only to see them crash in a hangover of being unable to sustain them.
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We’re less than a week to polls becoming votes. Nationally, Romney and Newt are deadlocked, including in the latest Gallup tracking poll released just moments ago.

In Iowa, Newt’s free fall shows no signs of stopping. Today’s PPP poll shows him plummeting to 13%. Paul sits at 24% and Romney takes second with 20%.

Meanwhile, Perry is joining the lawsuit parade in Virginia: “Virginia ballot access rules are among the most onerous and are particularly problematic in a multi-candidate election.” So, they’d be easier in a single candidate election? Hmmm. Isn’t it interesting that Perry and Gingrich only complained about the rules after they’d failed in their efforts to make the ballot?

Speechless?  Yeah, I was too when I first read the headline on The Daily Caller.  Apparently Cain has completely lost his mind since “suspending” his presidential campaign due to allegations of sexual harassment and a 13-year extramarital affair.

This is the very same Herman Cain that did not know whether he was for or against Obama’s Libya policy and falsely claimed that the Taliban was playing a role in Libya’s new government.  This is also the same guy that insisted that leaders don’t need to know anything about world affairs, they just need to provide clarity and a competent staff.  In an interview with The Daily Caller, Cain had this to say about the expertise needed to be Secretary of Defense:

You don’t need to have defense expertise.  You don’t even need to have military expertise.  You need to have leadership expertise.  That’s what I would bring to that job.

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