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Rick Santorum Jumps to Third in New CNN/Time Iowa Poll

Steve Pope/Getty Images(DUBUQUE, Iowa) -- A new CNN/Time Iowa poll shows Rick Santorum with a big jump in support just five days out from the Iowa caucuses.

He came in third in the survey with 16 percent support of likely Republican caucus goers, up 11 points from their last poll earlier this month. Mitt Romney topped the poll with 25 percent support while Ron Paul has 22 percent. Newt Gingrich plummeted, going from 33 percent to 14 percent in the same time period.

The poll was released as Santorum was holding a town hall at a furniture store here this afternoon. After the event, ABC News informed him of his jump in the CNN poll as he was leaving. “We feel the bigger numbers and we feel very, very good about how things are going and it’s nice to see that reflected in some of the polls, but we have lot of work to do,” Santorum said. “A lot of work.”

The former Pennsylvania senator has been in single digits throughout the campaign despite holding the most events of all the candidates around Iowa. Last month he reached all 99 counties in the state, something Michele Bachmann will complete Thursday. They are the only candidates this election season to do so.

He maintained throughout the process that his would be the final boomlet, telling ABC News last month in the midst of the Gingrich surge that he would gain in the polls closer to the caucuses. “As people are looking around … my strong sense is that people are going to start examining the only candidate they don’t know much about, and I think when they do, obviously I feel confident that we will do well,” Santorum said late last month.

He has also had a string of big-name endorsements, including Christian conservative leader Bob Vander Plaats and Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz.

Santorum has spent a fraction of what the other campaigns have spent here on advertising, but this month his campaign did release two television ads and just Wednesday a radio ad focusing on his social conservative background. The ad urged all conservatives to “unite” behind Santorum, who has made a strong pitch throughout his time campaigning here for the influential evangelical vote, mentioning his opposition to abortion and gay marriage at almost every campaign stop.

The CNN/Time poll shows that most of Santorum’s boost comes from likely caucus goers who are “born-again or evangelical,” the survey says. He now tops their list for the important voting bloc, with support from 22 percent of evangelical voters in the state.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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