Surging from behind, Santorum has taken an impressive lead over Mitt Romney in the latest Public Policy Poll, achieving a 15% lead over previous leader Mitt Romney. Santorum's momentum also shows up in Gallup's national poll, averaged over five days, putting him within two points of Romney, (see below.)
Real Clear Politics reports,
The survey from Public Policy Polling (D) shows Santorum with a sizable 39 percent to 24 percent lead. Texas Rep. Ron Paul comes in a distant third with 12 percent, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has 11 percent.And, Survey USA reports a statistical tie in California in their latest poll of registered Republicans.
PPP (D) surveyed 404 Republican primary voters from Feb. 10-12. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.
4 months to the California Primary, but fresh after caucus wins in Colorado and Minnesota and in Missouri's non-binding primary, Rick Santorum draws to within a whisker of nominal frontrunner Mitt Romney, 33% for Romney, 31% for Santorum, effectively even, according to a SurveyUSA poll conducted for KABC-TV Los Angeles, KPIX-TV San Francisco, KGTV-TV San Diego and KFSN-TV Fresno.
Santorum leads Romney among seniors, among evangelicals, among pro-life voters, among Tea Party members, among those who say they are "very conservative," and in the Central Valley region of California.
Romney leads among women, among younger voters, among moderates, and among California's pro-choice Republican primary voters. But even among the most affluent voters, a typical Romney stronghold, Romney's advantage is just 4 points, 35% to Santorum's 31%.
Camp Romney appears to be stunned as this forebodes their worst nightmare, they had hoped marginal wins at CPAC, and maine would forestall -- more headlines about Santorum siezing the lead, and a possible tailspin of Romney support during the several week lull before the February 28 primaries in Michigan and Arizona. Polls prior to Santorum's cuacus wins last week showed Romney leading by 28% in Arizona, and 15% in Michigan.
Today's Gallup Tracking Poll has Romney at 32% (down 2 from previous poll), Gingrich, unchanged, at 16%, Paul at 8%, and Santorum improving his number by 3, at 30%.
Romney strategists has been reassuring their supporters that he will use his substantial cash advantage to neutralize Santorum in Michigan, however, skeptics wonder if this will be as easy as it was with Gingrich, and also point out the risk of backlash from fellow Republicans.
A swing from Romney being up 15% in Michigan, to being 15% down over one week is a sizable challenge to Romney's claim of inevitability, and perhaps, even to being crowned the front-runner.
I can't wait to see poll updates from Arizona.