Still plenty of time - and plenty of room - for changes, but Perry is sucking the oxygen out of Iowa at the moment and has taken the lead according to this PPP poll:
The race is pretty close four ways in Iowa but Rick Perry is the new favorite among Republican voters in the state. Among announced candidates he's at 22% to 19% for Mitt Romney, 18% for Michele Bachmann, and 16% for Ron Paul. Further back are Herman Cain at 7%, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum at 5%, and Jon Huntsman at 3%.
If you throw Sarah Palin into the mix the numbers are pretty similar with Perry at 21%, Romney at 18%, Bachmann at 15%, Paul at 12%, and Palin registering at only 10%.
Perry's support is being built on Tea Party support and voters with very conservative positions on certain issues.
Perry is stealing support from Bachmann, born out even further when tea partiers are polled:
Only 33% of Republican voters in Iowa identify themselves as members of the Tea Party but a broad advantage with them is driving Perry's lead. He gets 32% to 22% for Bachmann, and 19% for Paul. Romney is all the way back in 6th place with those voters at only 6%. Romney doesn't need to win Tea Party voters to win in Iowa but he needs to do a whole lot better than that. With the majority of Republicans who don't consider themselves Tea Partiers Romney actually leads Perry and Bachmann with 30% to their 16% but it's not enough to make up for his poor performance with the far right faction of the party.
Bachmann needs to broaden her appeal anyway so it should be interesting to see what she does. She might want to stress her tax savvy a little more - something that sets her apart from Romney and Perry.
Ron Paul at 16% is a warning for the frontrunners. A surprise out of the box for Paul - second or strong third place finish - would give him some credibility that the press (and many Republicans) refuse to grant him. He could be a thorn in the side of whoever leads the pack all the way through the primaries.