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Romney, Paul Are 1 And 2 In Another Iowa Poll, Santorum Rising

Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney campaigning in Ames, Iowa, on Thursday (Dec. 29, 2011). Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images hide caption

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney campaigning in Ames, Iowa, on Thursday (Dec. 29, 2011).

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

With just one holiday weekend between now and Tuesday's Republican presidential caucuses in Iowa, there's another poll signalling that it could be a close battle at the top between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). And also once again, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania is on the rise and showing up at No. 3.

The NBC News-Marist Poll has Romney drawing support from 23 percent of the "likely caucus-goers" surveyed. Paul was at 21 percent. Santorum was at 15 percent.

Rounding out the list: Texas Gov. Rick Perry, at 14 percent; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, at 13 percent; Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann at 6 percent.

So, basically: In that poll, Romney and Paul are virtually tied at the top; Santorum, Perry and Gingrich are running neck-and-neck-and-neck for the No. 3 spot.

The results are similar to several other recent polls in the state, as Real Clear Politics reports.

Over at The New York Times' Five Thirty Eight blog, analyst Nate Silver says Santorum "can make the most credible claim of any candidate about having momentum in the state." And he speculates about the chances that the GOP race will come down to a two-way battle between Romney and Santorum.

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On Morning Edition today, NPR's Don Gonyea looked at Paul's rise to the near or at the top in Iowa polls. Meanwhile, our friends at It's All Politics continue to follow the news from there as well.

Republican presidential contender Ron Paul campaigning in Atlantic, Iowa, on Thursday (Dec. 29, 2011). Justin Sullivan/Getty Images hide caption

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Republican presidential contender Ron Paul campaigning in Atlantic, Iowa, on Thursday (Dec. 29, 2011).

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images