No. 1 in Iowa: Ron Paul
As Newt Gingrich plummets
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 19, 2011 8:49 AM CST
Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron?Paul, R-Texas, listens to a question at a campaign town hall in Derry, N.H., Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011.   (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – Don’t look now, but the frontrunner in Iowa might be ... Ron Paul?! According to the latest Public Policy Polling survey, the oft-dismissed libertarian is leading the field with 23% compared to Mitt Romney’s 20%. Newt Gingrich, meanwhile, is sinking fast, down to 14%, just ahead of Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and Rick Perry, who each have 10%. Jon Huntsman lags them all with 4%.

Paul may be being rewarded for actually campaigning in Iowa; 22% of voters think he has run the best campaign there, compared to 19% for Bachmann, 8% for Gingrich, and 5% for Romney. His support derives mainly from young voters—among those under 45 he leads Romney 33% to 16%—and independents and Democrats, among whom he leads 35% to 14%. Gingrich, meanwhile, has been hammered with negative ads, which have sent his favorability rating plummeting from 62% favorable, 31% unfavorable to 46% favorable, 47% unfavorable.