CBS News/New York Times Poll
, the CBS News/New York Times Pol
l out this morning shows Mitt Romney's national lead evaporating, and Newt Gingrich continuing his slow fade, as Rick Santorum takes the lead.
How meaningful is that? Well, on the one hand, it's the gazillionth lead change with everyone who wins a primary taking their turn to lead.
On the other, the CBS/NY Times poll joins the others in noting Romney's conservative problem: Santorum leads 38-24 with them, and they're the folks that vote in Republican primaries.
Self-identified conservatives divided their support among the candidates in January, but in this poll they appear to be coalescing solidly behind Santorum. He receives far more support from this group than Romney does, and conservative support for Santorum has increased since last month.
Romney's going to have to hope that the Santorum surge plays out like all his other rivals. But as we get later into the game, past performance is no assurance of future return. The NY Times
At the same time, another result in the poll underscores the race’s continuing fluidity. A majority of voters (6 in 10) who expressed a candidate preference said they could still change their mind – down from 74 percent who said so a month ago, but plenty with the potential to mix things up again.
notes this about Santorum's current Michigan lead:
But with the Michigan primary still two weeks away, the volatility in Republican horse race polling so far leads to one inescapable conclusion: Santorum may lead now, but the polling may look very different by election day.
All true, and based on recent history, but you have to wonder how many times Romney gets rejected by conservatives before people start believing it's true. Even if he gets the nomination, he's a wounded candidate with diminished chances in the fall.
Funny thing is, Republicans know that as well as we do.
Note: Margin of Error +/- 5 points