Forget the Newt Gingrich surge in Iowa. That's yesterday's news. We really should be focusing on Rep. Ron Paul having the Big Mo as in momentum, at least according to new Iowa and national polls.
The latest Public Policy Poll of likely Republican caucus goers actually has Paul in a statistical tie with with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, with Paul at 23 percent and Romney at 20 percent, with a margin of error of four percentage points. Gingrich came in at 14 percent support.
Meanwhile, though a new national CNN/Opinion Research Poll doesn't show Paul in the lead, it does have him holding solidly in third place at 14 percent, a five percentage point rise from the previous poll. Gingrich and Romney are tied for the lead at 28 percent. The CNN/ORC poll has a 3 percentage point margin of error.
The results are a testament to the organization Paul has created in Iowa and the enthusiasm he has generated, especially among younger voters.
Also, Paul has run perhaps the toughest negative ads of all the rivals for the Republican presidential nomination against Gingrich and those ads, along with the other attacks on the former speaker, appear to have taken their toll.
Paul's momentum has led Nate Silver of the FiveThirtyEight blog to predict that Paul may be poised to stun the political world with a big win in the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses. He gives Paul a 52 percent chance of winning compared with Romney's 28 percent and Gingrich's 8 percent. Texas Gov. Rick Perry comes in next at 7 percent.
Returning to the polls, the PPP Iowa poll gives Perry, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, and Rick Santorum, the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, 10 percent support each. All three have made a play for the state's cultural conservatives, a bloc they appear to be splitting.
The CNN/ORC national poll places Bachmann at 8 percent, Perry at 7 percent and Santorum at 4 percent.
Both the Iowa and national polls agree that support for Jon Huntsman Jr., the former Utah governor, is, at two percent, within the margin of error of both polls.
Huntsman wrote off Iowa months ago and Iowa has returned the favor.
(Note: This post was revised to reflect that the PPP poll was an Iowa poll while the CNN/ORC poll was a national poll.)