NYT/CBS poll shows conservatives consolidating behind Santorum

posted at 9:15 am on February 14, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Consider this a corroboration of Gallup and Pew, both of which have recorded a surge for Rick Santorum that makes him the national frontrunner — if not in each state.  The CBS/New York Times poll shows Santorum gaining 14 points in a single month, eclipsing Mitt Romney by three points (still within the MOE), whose support stayed virtually unchanged from January.  Almost all of the gain comes at the expense of Newt Gingrich, who dropped to fourth place behind Ron Paul among Republican primary voters:

Rick Santorum has pulled slightly ahead of Mitt Romney in Republican primary voters’ preference for the presidential nomination, a national CBS News/New York Times Poll shows.

Ron Paul is now in third, followed by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

Among self-described conservative voters, the shift has been fairly dramatic.  A month ago in this poll series, conservatives were equally split between Romney, Gingrich, and Santorum at 25/25/24 respectively.  Now, however, Santorum’s support in this demo has risen to 38%, while Romney has remained steady at 24% and Gingrich dropped by about half to 12%.  The same thing has happened to Tea Party support and evangelicals.  The dynamic seems to be a movement away from Gingrich and a consolidation among conservative voters behind Santorum as the alternative to Romney, at least for now.

There are a few things to note about this poll, however.  This is a poll of registered voters, not likely voters, which is not as predictive a model and is a curious sampling choice in the middle of the actual primary voting.  These results come from a larger survey, most of whose results will be announced later.  The overall sample was 1,064 registered voters, but only 331 of those planned to vote in a Republican primary.  At least a few of those will be independents rather than Republicans, so the partisan split of the overall survey is likely to be highly skewed to Democrats.  That doesn’t matter for these results, but a sample of 331 registered voters for a national poll is on the small side.  Keep that in mind.

Now that Santorum has become a legitimate force in the race, he’s getting some attention from the usual suspects.  Member of Occupy Tacoma tried to crash a Santorum event, and Politico reports that Santorum responded by calling them agents of “true intolerance”:

Filling the front row at the Washington State History Museum where Santorum spoke, a group of Occupy protesters disrupted the event, forcing Santorum to engage them. Occupy Tacoma, the local branch of the Occupy Wall Street movement, is camped out right next to the museum, and advertised Santorum’s visit on its web site.

“I think it’s really important for you to understand what this radical element represents, because what they represent is true intolerance,” Santorum said, after two protesters were taken to the ground and placed in handcuffs by police.

The protesters, Santorum suggested, “instead of standing here unemployed, yelling at somebody” should instead “go out and get a job.”

Santorum’s supporters roared their approval, chanting “get a job” back at the Occupiers.

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then


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