Rasmussen tracking poll shows Santorum within four of Obama

posted at 12:45 pm on February 10, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Remember the “electability” argument?  Conservatives need Mitt Romney, the argument goes, in order to compete against Barack Obama in the general election.  However, the latest Rasmussen tracking poll on head-to-head results shows Romney trailing Obama by ten points — while Rick Santorum comes within four:

In a potential Election 2012 matchup, the president attracts 50% of the vote and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney 40% (see tracking history). This is the largest lead the president has enjoyed against Romney in regular polling going back more than a year. It’s also the first time that the president has reached the 50% level of support against Romney.

Rick Santorum now trails the president by four percentage points, 46% to 42%. Rasmussen Reports will now be tracking the Obama-Santorum race on a daily basis. Matchup results are updated daily at 9:30 a.m. Eastern (sign up for free daily e-mail update). Last week, Santorum had a one-point advantage over Obama. However, like Rick Perry, Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich before him, Santorum was unable to sustain that advantage beyond a single poll.

In the crucial swing state of Ohio, Santorum is now even with the president. Romney trails by four. Democrat Sherrod Brown has a modest lead in the Ohio Senate race. Rasmussen Reports will release new data on the race for president in Florida at noon Eastern today.

Scott Rasmussen’s weekly column looks at the political impact of Obama’s decision to impose a health-insurance mandate on religious organizations, and concludes that Obama’s electability might be a moot point anyway:

The Obama administration recently ruled that all insurance policies must offer contraceptive services with no co-payments required. In and of itself, that decision is neither positive nor negative. Forty-three percent of voters favor it, while 46 percent are opposed.

That mandate violates the beliefs of some churches. Normally, religious exemptions are granted in such cases, but not this time. Thirty-nine percent support the administration on this point, while 50 percent are opposed. Even worse for the White House, support for the ruling comes primarily from people who rarely attend church. That’s a group that voted strongly for Obama in 2008 and continues to support him today. In other words, no upside.

But, among Catholics, only 28 percent believe religious organizations should be required to implement rules that conflict with church doctrine. Sixty-five percent are opposed. This is true even though many Catholics disagree with church teachings on birth control.

The impact is stunning since 54 percent of Catholics voted for President Obama in 2008. Today, just 39 percent of Catholic voters approve of the way he’s doing his job.

Perhaps some strategists thought that Catholics would welcome government help in battling the church on birth control. But Catholics who disagree with the church deal with the situation in the privacy of their own bedroom. They don’t need federal help. In fact, it is hard to imagine any person of faith wanting the federal government to have any say in church doctrine and how Holy Scripture should be applied.

The last couple of weeks have been a near-perfect storm for Santorum, who has tried to campaign primarily on economic and national-security issues.  Now, suddenly, Barack Obama has validated the culture war with his attack on religious conscience, and Santorum has the best position from which to lead a counter-attack.  He speaks the language much more fluently and with more passion than Romney, and Republicans looking for a champion in this fight will start naturally looking for Santorum.

The Ohio results should be even more concerning for Obama and Romney.  Santorum is speaking to the voters that Obama lost in the 2008 primaries but won in the 2008 election as a supposedly reasonable moderate.  Ohio will be a tough state for Republicans to carry in the general election this year, but it will be absolutely critical to their White House hopes.  If Santorum maintains this momentum, it’s quite possible that the electability argument will begin to favor Santorum rather than Romney, especially if the Obama administration fails to retreat on the HHS mandate.

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 4

Comment pages: 1 4