RASMUSSEN BREAKING POLL: IOWA-HUCKABEE 28% ROMNEY 25%

Republican Iowa Caucus

Iowa: Huckabee 28% Romney 25%

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of the Iowa caucus finds former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee with 28% of the vote, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney with 25% support, and everyone else far behind. National frontrunner Rudy Giuliani gets just 12% of the vote in Iowa at this time while former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson is the only other candidate in double digits at 11% (see crosstabs). Given the margin of error, the challenges of determining the relatively small number of people who will participate in a caucus, and other factors, the race is far too close to call at this point in time. However, the fact that Romney is no longer the clear frontrunner in Iowa reflects a stunning change in the race.

Compared to our prior survey, the trend is unmistakable—Huckabee has gone up and just about everybody else has gone down. Huckabee’s 28% support represents a twelve point increase from a Rasmussen Reports poll conducted earlier in the month. Romney is down four points while Giuliani and Thompson are each down three points from the previous survey. John McCain is down two points and earns just 4% support. Ron Paul picked up a point and is now at the 5% level.

Forty-eight percent (48%) of Evangelical Christians support Hucakbee. That’s more than all the other candidates combined. Romney attracts 16% of the Evangelical vote.

Among those who have participated in the caucuses before, Huckabee attracts 30% support while Romney is at 23%. Among those who have not taken part in the caucuses before, it’s Romney 29% Huckabee 26%. A separate Rasmussen Reports article looks at some of the questions that would be raised if Huckabee wins the Iowa caucuses.

Overall, Romney is the second choice for 21% of likely caucus participants. Huckabee is the second choice for 16%, Giuliani for 15% and Thompson for 14%.

The field still remains quite fluid. Twelve percent (12%) of likely caucus participants say there is a good chance they could still change their mind while 29% say they might change their mind. Among those who say there is a good chance they might change their mind, Romney is the second choice for 25%, Giuliani for 21%, Thompson for 18%, and Huckabee for 17%.

Fifty-three percent (53%) of Huckabee supporters say they are certain to vote for him. Forty-nine percent (49%) of Giuliani’s supporters say the same along with 48% of Romney voters and 46% of those for Thompson.

At the other extreme, 17% of Giuliani supporters say there is a good chance they could change their mind before January 3 arrives. Sixteen percent (16%) of Romney’s backers say the same along with 12% of those for Huckabee and 8% for Thompson.

Among those likely to take part in the Iowa Republican caucuses, Romney is viewed favorably by 77%, Huckabee by 76%, Giuliani by 68%, and Thompson by 71%. Those numbers reflect an eleven point-gain for Huckabee and a six-point decline for Giuliani while impressions of the other candidates is essentially unchanged.

As for unfavorables, just 20% offer a negative assessment of Huckabee. Twenty-one percent (21%) have an unfavorable opinion of Romney, 24% say the same about Thompson, and 30% have a negative opinion of Giuliani.

McCain’s numbers have fallen since the previous Rasmussen Reports survey. Among Republicans likely to participate in the caucus, 54% have a favorable opinion of the Arizona Senator while 44% have an unfavorable view.

Ron Paul is viewed favorably by 39% and unfavorably by 52%.

Highlighting the personal nature of the Iowa caucuses, 44% of those who are likely to participate have seen at least one of the Presidential candidates in person this year.

Forty-six percent (46%) of likely caucus participants think that Romney will win in Iowa this year while 25% think Huckabee will win on January 3. No other candidate reaches double digits.

Thirty-four percent (34%) believe that Romney will ultimately win the GOP nomination. Twenty-four percent (24%) believe Giuliani will represent the GOP in 2008 while 16% think that Huckabee will emerge victorious in the end.

Twenty-five percent (25%) of likely caucus participants identified immigration as the most important voting issue. Twenty-one percent (21%) named national security as their top issue while 18% said the economy was most important and 14% ranked the War in Iraq as the top issue.

While Huckabee has caught Romney in Iowa, the former Massachusetts Governor enjoys a strong lead in New Hampshire, site of the first-in-the-nation Presidential Primary. Rasmussen Reports is polling in New Hampshire this week and will release new results later in the week.

All polling for caucus events presents challenges in determining who is likely to show up and participate. In conducting and analyzing this survey, Rasmussen Reports reviewed results for many possible levels of turnout. While the results varied modestly depending upon the turnout model, the overall dynamic was the same in all cases—Huckabee in the lead with Romney closely behind while Giuliani, and Thompson lagged. See information on screening questions and the sample used in this telephone survey.

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