No need to check your watch: the Polling Wrap is a bit tardy tonight. It is an excused tardy, however: we have a note in the form of the new Iowa tracking poll by PPP.
The verdict: what was once a three-man race is now a two-man race.
NATIONAL (Gallup Tracking): Gingrich 25, Romney 24, Paul 11, Perry 8, Bachmann 6, Santorum 3, Huntsman 2
IOWA (PPP Tracking): Paul 24, Romney 20, Gingrich 13, Bachmann 11, Perry 10, Santorum 10, Huntsman 4, Roemer 2
You really have to love PPP. Not only do they give us our first Buddy Roemer sighting in quite some time, but they also bestow over 300 pages of crosstabs on us.
Feel free to dive through them all, though we will also have more extensive analysis of the PPP Iowa poll on Wednesday here at Daily Kos.
The story here is Gingrich's fall from grace, which continued this week. The biggest indicator of this is his cratering favorabilities, down to 37/54 this week. Mitt Romney is also in net-negative territory on his fav/unfav (44/47).
The most beloved Republican is, ironically, a guy who is languishing in fifth place. Rick Santorum has the best fav/unfav (56/29), but only 10% are willing to pick him as their candidate. The only way he becomes relevant is with a strong third-place finish in Iowa, which he can then parlay into bigger things if he becomes the consensus anti-Romney.
The final question is this: can Paul really win next week? The answer is: possibly. The challenge for Paul is that his coalition (younger voters, Indies, Democrats) is an untraditional one. Romney's coalition is a much more traditional one, and should be a better bet to show up on caucus night. But if Paul has inspired his flock enough for them to turn out, he becomes the betting favorite.
There should be a flood of polling to come this week (PPP is going back into the field before the weekend), so this Paul-Romney dynamic bears watching, as does whether or not Santorum can generate any forward momentum.