Mitt Romney held a narrow lead over his Republican rivals as Rick Santorum enjoyed a late surge in the most closely followed state poll released just three days before Iowa’s first-in-the-nation party caucuses.
The Des Moines Register’s final Iowa Poll before the caucuses, published Saturday night, shows the former Massachusetts governor with the support of 24 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers, up from 16 percent in the poll a month ago. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas had the backing of 22 percent, which makes the race between the top two a statistical dead heat.

Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania who has spent more time in Iowa than any of the other Republican candidates, is seeing the benefits of his labor. The poll shows him in third place at 15 percent, although the newspaper said he surged in the final two days the survey was being conducted