Rasmussen Poll: Santorum Leads Romney 34%-30% in Tennessee

Sunday, 04 Mar 2012 05:00 PM

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Just two days before Super Tuesday, the Republican primary race in Tennessee has become a two-man competition between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

The first Rasmussen Reports survey of Likely GOP Primary Voters in Tennessee shows Santorum attracting 34 percent of the vote, while Romney earns 30 percent. Polls from other firms have previously shown Santorum with a large lead in the state.

That trend would be consistent with Rasmussen Reports polling in other states. In Ohio, Santorum was up by 18 points two weeks ago, but the Buckeye State is now a tossup. Nationally, following his victories last Tuesday in the Michigan and Arizona GOP primaries, Romney has opened a 16-point lead over Santorum. Earlier, he had trailed by 12.

In Tennessee, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich places third with 18 percent, and Texas Congressman Ron Paul picks up support from eight percent (8 percent). Three percent (3 percent) prefer some other candidate, and seven percent (7 percent) are undecided.

Thirty-five percent (35 percent) of likely primary voters in the Volunteer State say they still could change their minds, and six percent (6 percent) haven't made an initial choice yet.

Forty-one percent (41 percent) of these Tennessee voters think Romney would be the strongest candidate in the fall election against President Obama. Twenty-five percent (25 percent) think Santorum would be the strongest, 20 percent think it would be Gingrich, and four percent (4 percent) see Paul as the best.

Rasmussen Reports daily tracking generally shows both Santorum and Romney a few points behind President Obama in general election polling.

New numbers matching Gingrich and Paul against Obama will be released Monday.

This Tennessee survey of 750 Likely Republican Primary Voters was conducted on March 3, 2012 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.

Seventy-nine percent (79 percent) of primary voters in Tennessee expect to vote for the Republican candidate no matter who wins the nomination.

That includes 94 percent of Gingrich supporters, 83 percent of Santorum voters and 81 percent of those planning to vote for Romney. Just 51 percent of Paul supporters expect to support the GOP candidate if their man doesn’t get the nod.

Regardless of who they want to win the nomination, 70 percent think Romney will be the nominee, while only 16 percent expect Santorum to win.

Santorum is viewed favorably by 70 percent of Likely Republican Primary Voters in the state. Sixty-four percent (64 percent) say the same of Romney, and 58 percent offer positive reviews of Gingrich. For Paul, most reviews (60 percent) are negative. Just 35 percent hold a positive view of the congressman from Texas.

Forty-eight percent (48 percent) of Tennessee primary voters say the ability to win in November is more important than finding the candidate who best represents Republican values. Forty-three percent (43 percent) hold the opposite view. Among those who see party values as most important, Santorum leads Romney 42 percent to 20 percent, with Gingrich picking up 19 percent of the vote. Among those who see electability as the top priority, it’s Romney 41 percent, Santorum 27 percent and Gingrich 19 percent.

Santorum leads Romney by a 51 percent to 14 percent margin among Very Conservative voters. However, among those who are Somewhat Conservative, Romney leads 38 percent to 26 percent. Among all other primary voters, Romney leads by 27 percentage points.

Native son Gingrich remains well ahead in Georgia, the only other Super Tuesday primary state Rasmussen Reports has recently surveyed.


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