More From the ‘Entrance’ Polls: Conservatives Troubled by Romney, and Santorum’s Push Pays Off

Jan 3, 2012 9:34pm

Here’s a noteworthy factoid from the series of “entrance” polls coming in from the Iowa caucuses: Among voters looking for a “true conservative,” only 1 percent of them — yes, 1 percent — chose Mitt Romney.

That group broke mostly for Ron Paul (40 percent) and Rick Santorum (34 percent), the other two candidates in the top echelon with Romney, according to ABC News’ Gary Langer, of Langer Research Associates. The poor conservative showing for Romney, Langer writes, underscores “his challenges in the strong conservative wing of the party,” which has been a storyline throughout the GOP race.

“It’s notable that Romney did less well among very conservatives (13 percent support) this year than he did in 2008 (23 percent in this group),” Langer adds. “And for every pragmatic caucus-goer seeking an experienced candidate who can win the general election — there was another looking for a true believer with strong moral fiber. For the latter group, Romney was not the choice.”

In another breakdown of statistics, it’s clear that Paul’s share has come from supporters who have long been a fan, whereas Santorum is the lucky recipient of a very late (and perfectly timed) surge in popularity.

“Seventy-seven percent of Paul’s supporters decided earlier than in the last few days — they went for him earlier and stayed there,” Langer says. “By contrast, 63 percent of Santorum’s supporters decided on him in just the last few days. Romney landed between the two on these.”

Finally, a ranking of the issues: Of the 42 percent of caucusers who said the economy is most important, Romney was the favored candidate. Paul, on the other hand, won most of the 34 percent who cited the deficit.

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