Posted Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011, at 4:48 PM
Newt Gingrich - 22% (-5)
Ron Paul - 21% (+3)
Mitt Romney - 16% (+0)
Michele Bachmann - 11% (-2)
Rick Perry - 9% (+0)
Rick Santorum - 8% (+2)
Jon Huntsman - 5% (+1)
Gary Johnson - 1% (+0)
Very stable, but the biggest movement is away from Gingrich. Why? His favorable numbers have tumbled from +31 to +12.
2) One reason that voters might have cooled on Gingrich: He was the first and loudest backer of Donald Trump's debate stunt. It was completely at cross purposes with his calls for seriousness, and moans about the "mickey mouse" nature of the media's coverage. And voters didn't want it.
That's a net 21 negative hit for a candidate. I doubt it drew as much blood as the Super PAC ads hitting Gingrich, but surely it drew some.
3) Ron Paul is doing well indeed. His favorable numbers have bounced from +14 to +30. He's leading among voters who consider foreign policy or social issues their top concerns. One reason: Liberals, who have no Democratic caucuses this year, adore him. He's got a newt 74-point positive rating from "somewhat liberal" voters and a +50 positive from moderates.
4) There's no sign, yet, of a Rick Perry bounce tied to his proud culture warrior ad campaign. He has moved from a -2 favorable rating to a -3 favorable rating.
5) We may have to call off the Rick Santorum Surge Watch on grounds of voters not giving a damn about whether or not the candidates hustle in their states. Santorum is at 8 percent, and Bachmann is at 11 percent. By the end of this week, they will be the only candidates who visited all 99 Iowa counties. And both are doing slightly worse with voters who say face time in Iowa is "very important." Santorum benefits from other candidates flopping, not from his own work. So maybe he can surge if people realize that Paul is incredibly vulnerable -- on earmarks, on personal ties to weird groups, on Israel -- and beat him up.