Rasmussen Poll: Santorum Leads Romney in Ohio

Friday, 02 Mar 2012 11:56 AM

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The Republican Primary race in Ohio is one of the biggest prizes on Super Tuesday, and it’s now a tossup, according to the lastest Rasmussen Reports survey.

The poll of likely GOP voters in Ohio, taken last night, shows former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum attracting 33 percent of the vote and Mitt Romney at 31 percent — a squeaker in statistical terms. Santorum has dropped 18- percentage points in two weeks against Romney.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is now in third place with 15 percent and Texas Congressman Ron Paul  is at 11 percent. Two percent prefer another candidate, and 8 percent  remain undecided.

If it’s a two-man race with the other candidates dropping out, Santorum and Romney are tied at 43 percent each. That, too, represents a huge change. Two weeks ago, Santorum led Romney by 28 points if just the two of them were in the race for the GOP nomination in Ohio.

Romney’s gains in Ohio mirror his surge nationwide following victories Tuesday in the Arizona and Michigan primaries. The former Massachusetts governor now leads Santorum among likely GOP voters nationwide by a 40 to 24 percent margin.

Regardless of who they support, 70 percent of GOP primary voters in Ohio now expect Romney will win the party's nomination. Only 16 percent believe Santorum will emerge victorious.

Forty-five percent  see Romney as the strongest general election candidate against President Obama. Twenty-five percent  see Santorum as the strongest potential challenger, and 16 percent believe Gingrich will be the best.

Given a choice, 49 percent  in Ohio say it’s more important to find a candidate who can beat Obama, while 42 percent prefer someone who does the best job representing Republican values. Santorum leads by 27 among those who are looking for someone to represent GOP values, while Romney leads by 19 among those who see electability as most important.

This Ohio survey of 750 likely GOP voters was conducted on March 1. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4 percentage points.

In the favorability category, 67 percent have a favorable opinion of Santorum, and 66 percent say the same about Romney. For Santorum, those numbers represent an 8-point decline, while Romney’s numbers are a 2-point improvement. Fifty-four percent offer favorable reviews of Gingrich, but just 38 percent are that upbeat about Paul.

The key to the Ohio race appears to be voters who could change their minds. Some 35 percent say the could change their minds, and 8 percent have no initial preference.

Santorum leads by 20 among very conservative voters, while Romney has an 18-point advantage among those who are somewhat conservative.

Santorum leads among those who earn between $20,000 and $75,000 annually. Romney leads among other income groups.

Editor's Note: Scott Rasmussen, chief pollster of Rasmussen Reports, is author of the new book,
“The People's Money: How Voters Will Balance the Budget and Eliminate the Federal Debt”



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