Santorum Increases Lead in Louisiana

Friday, 23 Mar 2012 12:44 PM

By Newsmax Wires

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Mitt Romney is poised to suffer yet another blow in his march to the Republican presidential nomination this weekend in Louisiana, according new polls from Public Policy Polling and Rasmussen Reports.

A poll released Friday by Public Policy Polling shows Rick Santorum with a double-digit lead over Romney in Louisiana. Some 42 percent of the 650 likely Republican primary voters polled make Santorum their top choice. Mitt Romney is at 28 percent, with Newt Gingrich at 18 percent and Ron Paul at 8 percent.

And the PPP poll has Santorum winning the support of voters who identify as "very conservative," Tea Partiers, and evangelicals. Romney narrowly has the support, 37-33 percent, of voters living in urban areas. The PPP poll has a 3.8 percent margin of error.

Another poll released Thursday by Rasmussen Reports gives Santorum a 12-percentage point lead over the former Massachusetts governor.

The good news for Santorum came as the candidate tried to walk back comments on Thursday that President Obama might be a better choice than rival Romney. But if it’s not him, his campaign said Friday, Santorum will back whoever it is — and isn’t actually suggesting voters just stick with Obama.

The campaign found itself doing damage control after Santorum said on Thursday: “You win by giving people the opportunity to see a different vision for our country, not someone who’s going to be a little different than the person in there.” He added: “If they’re going to be a little different, we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk of what may be the Etch A Sketch candidate for the future,” referring to Obama and Mitt Romney.

Speaking Friday on CNN, Santorum Press Secretary Alice Stewart said the candidate was referring to voters who may not see the difference between Romney and Obama.

“With Mitt Romney it’s the same vision, and it’s one that’s not the right direction for this country. And he was worried that voters would have that feeling,” Stewart said. She then added: “Rick has made it abundantly clear that once the nominee is chosen he will stand behind the nominee and do everything we can to replace Barack Obama.”

In Louisiana, Santorum is up by 43 percent to 31 percent. Newt Gingrich has 16 percent with Ron Paul trailing on 5 percent, according to Rasmussen.

The news gets even worse for Romney if Gingrich and Paul are taken out of the equation. In that scenario, 57 percent say they would vote for Santorum, while 37 percent go for Romney.

But there is some good news for the Republican front-runner in the Rasmussen figures. More than 9 out of 10 Republicans say they would vote for Romney in the general election if he is the eventual nominee. Only 3 percent said they would vote for President Barack Obama, while another 3 percent said they would go for a third party candidate and a further 3 percent were unsure.

And when the Louisiana voters are asked who is going to win the nomination, more than four times as many people – 73 percent to 17 percent – believe it will be Romney rather than the former Pennsylvania senator. According to the Associated Press, Romney is now nearly half way to the magic 1,144 number of delegates, leading Santorum by 563 to 263 with Gingrich on 135 and Paul on 50.

The Rasmussen figures back up a poll in the Pelican State taken over the weekend by Magellan Strategies, which gave Santorum a 13-point edge over Romney. Louisiana is generally seen as Santorum’s best hope for a victory until his home state of Pennsylvania votes in a primary on April 24.

Rasmussen Reports president Scott Rasmussen told Newsmax on Wednesday that he considers that Wisconsin, which goes to the polls in a primary on April 3, is the only other state to vote before May in which Santorum has a chance of winning. He said the results of a Rasmussen poll from the Badger State will be released within the next day or so.

Twenty delegates are up for grabs in Saturday's Republican presidential preference primary, but state party chairman Roger Villere says something else is also at stake: "Perception of momentum."

With Mitt Romney not yet able to lay claim to the GOP nomination, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul were making strong pitches to the conservative base among Louisiana Republicans.

It's attention to Louisiana that Villere relishes, as he acknowledges that the state primary hasn't mattered much in the last couple of election cycles.

Romney, coming off a win in Illinois that boosted his front-runner status, scheduled a Friday appearance in Metairie billed as a "repeal and replace Obamacare event," followed by a visit to Shreveport to talk about energy policy.



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