The third poll of likely Iowa caucus voters released inside of a week solidifies Mitt Romney as the leader of the top-tier Republican presidential hopefuls in the influential Hawkeye State. Romney's support had increased noticeably in polls released by Zogby and KCCI-TV to move him into a statistical tie with frontrunners John McCain and Rudy Giuliani. However, the latest Iowa Poll (sponsored by the Des Moines Register, and conducted May 12-16) gives Romney a whopping double-digit lead over both of his top rivals.
The Iowa Poll found Romney with 30 percent of the support of likely voters, ahead of McCain (18 percent) and Giuliani (17 percent). Since announcing his candidacy, Romney has endured significant criticism among conservative commentators for being seen as an 'unreliable' conservative (due in part to his varied stances on abortion during the course of his political career). However, Republican caucus voters in Iowa have become smitten with the former Massachusetts governor: 74 percent have a favorable view of Romney, while only 13 percent have an unfavorable view.
Also echoing the Zogby and KCCI-TV polls, former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson (7 percent) seems to be pulling out of the "second tier" of announced Republican candidates, followed by Sam Brownback (5 percent), Tom Tancredo (4 percent), and Mike Huckabee (4 percent).
John Edwards (29 percent) continues to lead the pack of eight Democratic hopefuls in the new Iowa Poll, with a six-point lead over Barack Obama and an eight-point lead over Hillary Clinton. This is the second largest lead for Edwards as measured by any publicly released poll to date (behind only his 11-point lead in a January Zogby survey).
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who also polled in fourth place in last week's Zogby and KCCI-TV surveys, came in fourth at 10 percent—his highest level of support measured in Iowa thus far.