As one would expect, even on this pretty mild polling day, all eyes are on Super Tuesday. And while Mitt Romney is in a measurably better position than he was a week ago (especially in Washington, where he hopes to keep his winning "streak" alive with a caucus win tomorrow), Rick Santorum still has some firewalls in place heading into next week.
The intriguing thing to watch will be Santorum's most critical firewall: Ohio. He still holds a lead there according to three separate pollsters. But that lead has largely disappeared, raising questions about whether Santorum can limp across the finish line in the Buckeye State ahead of Romney, or whether Romney might be on the cusp of finally establishing a clearly dominant position at the front of the GOP pack.
NATIONAL (Gallup Tracking): Romney 35, Santorum 23, Gingrich 16, Paul 11GENERAL ELECTION:
GEORGIA (Rasmussen): Gingrich 38, Romney 26, Santorum 20, Paul 7
GEORGIA (YouGov): Gingrich 32, Romney 27, Santorum 17, Paul 10
MASSACHUSETTS (YouGov): Romney 56, Santorum 16, Gingrich 5, Paul 5
NORTH CAROLINA (PPP): Santorum 31, Romney 25, Gingrich 23, Paul 8
OHIO (Quinnipiac): Santorum 35, Romney 31, Gingrich 17, Paul 12
OHIO (Rasmussen): Santorum 33, Romney 31, Gingrich 15, Paul 11
OHIO (YouGov): Santorum 33, Romney 27, Gingrich 12, Paul 9
OKLAHOMA (YouGov): Santorum 28, Romney 25, Gingrich 20, Paul 8
TENNESSEE (YouGov): Santorum 32, Romney 23, Gingrich 16, Paul 13
WASHINGTON (PPP): Romney 37, Santorum 32, Paul 16, Gingrich 13
NATIONAL (Rasmussen Tracking): Obama d. Santorum (46-43); Obama d. Romney (48-42)A couple of observations await you, just past the jump.
Amid a fairly quiet polling day (expect a substantially greater volume than usual over the weekend, to say nothing of this coming Monday), the biggest item on the boards is probably the YouGov survey of five different Super Tuesday contests. There is a giant caveat with YouGov, which is an internet-based pool of respondents. The only reason YouGov's polls merit inclusion, whereas similar net-based samples (like Zogby Interactive) do not, is because YouGov actually compiled a pretty decent track record in 2010.
There are no great surprises in their numbers, which track pretty consistently with other pollsters who have surveyed the states covered in this YouGov polling blast. They are a little more bullish on Ohio than either Quinnipiac and Rasmussen, it seems. But their polling window is quite a bit wider (they were in the field, as it were, from February 25th until March 1st), whereas Rasmussen's poll was Thursday-only.
One interesting thing that YouGov did, that most pollsters do not, was arrive at a "final total" by allocating the undecided voters. This does change a couple of margins substantially. With leaners fully pushed and accounted for, for example, Rick Santorum's lead in Ohio goes from 6 percent (33-27) to 9 percent (41-32). He also expands his lead in Oklahoma incrementally. But pushing undecideds costs him a few percent in Tennessee, and moves Romney a point closer to Newt Gingrich in Georgia.
On the general election front, meanwhile, it is silent night as we close the week. It is probably worth noting that the Rasmussen tracker has reverted back on two counts: it pushes the president back out to a 6-point lead over Mitt Romney, and it claims that Rick Santorum is incrementally stronger in a general election scenario than Mitt Romney.