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Iowa GOP voters see Romney as best Obama opponent

Published: Wed, January 4, 2012 @ 12:24 a.m.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won strong support Tuesday from Republicans seeking a candidate who can topple President Barack Obama in November's elections and from those most concerned about the weak economy, according to an entrance poll of GOP voters attending Iowa's presidential caucuses.

Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, countered with solid backing from tea party supporters, religious voters and those who ranked abortion as their paramount campaign issue.

Each candidate's reservoir of support helped explain a night in which Romney and Santorum were running neck and neck - and ahead of their four other competitors - in the year's first votes as Republicans started selecting their presidential nominee.

Running third was Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who scored highly with young voters, independents and people concerned about huge federal budget deficits.

Given a choice of four qualities they wanted in their party's nominee, about 3 in 10 said they wanted someone who could defeat Obama this fall. Forty-nine percent of that group said they were backing Romney, more than twice as many as cited any other candidate.

"I like Santorum's character and values. But I like Romney's experience and record," said Jeff Young, a salesman from Waterloo, Iowa, who said he was split between the two before Tuesday's caucus. "He's best-positioned in the most ways to compete with the other party."

Santorum, whose candidacy surged in recent days while emphasizing family and faith, was leading among those seeking a candidate with strong moral character, with 39 percent picking him. Santorum and Paul, a libertarian, were running about evenly among those who said they wanted a true conservative as their standard bearer.

Nearly 3 in 10 supporters of the conservative tea party movement were supporting Santorum, and about the same proportion of born-again or evangelical voters were also backing him. That gave Santorum a clear lead among both groups, important because each account for about 6 in 10 Iowa GOP caucus goers.

Santorum's recent burst of popularity was spotlighted by the entrance poll, which showed he was backed by a third of all voters who said they made their decisions in recent days - more than any other contender.

Only about 1 in 7 voters said abortion was the issue that mattered most when they picked a candidate, but an overwhelming 57 percent of them were backing Santorum.

Asked the campaign's top issue, about 4 in 10 named the economy. Romney led among that group with support from about a third of them, underscoring the appeal of his background running an investment company before entering politics and his emphasis during the campaign on his business experience.


1slappysmith(55 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

probably the most insignificant race for the republican nomination in history, none of them can beat obama even with ron paul serving the GOP when he runs as an independent trying to steal obama votes by getting the gullible tin foil hats armed with their buzz word corporate masters vote like the pied piper.

with an easy obama victory and the GOP proving they have no solutions and are the main reason for such a slow economic recovery, they will be swept out of the house of representatives like they deserve to be. there may be an economic turn around sooner than expected

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2vicarofhell(25 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

I hope after this election that maybe some sane people will take over the GOP. They can not be a viable party when it has been hijacked by evangelicals and far right nutters who only seek to disruptgovernment instead of trying to work across the aisle. Heck, if Regan (who the GOP idolizes so much) ran in today's GOP he wouldn't even be able to garner any attention because he would be considered too moderate!

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3db(280 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

Any one of the Republicans is a better choice than Obama. It's too bad that many in this area are willing to trade democracy & the American creed of opportunity & work ethic for a meager government handout & a socialist entitlement agenda. There was a time not long ago that we Americans scorned socialists and considered receiving a handout to be embarrassing.

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4republicanRick(1736 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

Obama is supported by the media and eastern liberal elites. His economic policies have destroyed families.

Wait till Obama finally gets questioned by some in the media this coming year. He will wilt fast. He is the second coming of Jimmy Carter and he has weakened America.

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5vicarofhell(25 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

@ db, People like you are part of the problem with automatically labeling people with an opposing view as a "socialist" and "lazy". GOP and Dem candidates both recieve exorbarant amounts of campaign financing from unions and now private companies. Don't act like one side of the aisle is any less paid off then the other. The next time you have a discussion try not to use the political buzzwords that are hammered into your head by right wing media. And if you really want to see what a socialist is pick up a history book or read a Euroepean newspaper, because there sure aren't a lot of actual socialists here in the U.S.

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6vicarofhell(25 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

@ commoncitizen, I wasn't aware that people on Wall Street don't work (bailout). Aren't those the very people that conservatives defend in the Occupy Wall Street movement? How do you feel when people call right wingers fascists (promoting social coservatism when one of the main reasons why conservatives support the party on the issue of abortion)? Using hot words in debate is ridiculous and takes away from actual, intelligent discusion.

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