Poll: Hey, Romney still leads in Arizona — by three

posted at 4:10 pm on February 20, 2012 by Allahpundit

I keep thinking that while the commentariat buzzes about Santorum’s surge, the Romney Super PAC death star is quietly moving into position. They nuked Newt with nearly $14 million in mostly negative ads in January; surely, surely, there’s a plan to turn Planet Sweater Vest into Alderaan before Arizona and Michigan vote.

Getting kind of late, though, no? Just eight days until the ultimate Romney Gut Check.

The Republican race for President in Arizona looks like a close one, with Mitt Romney leading Rick Santorum only 36-33. Newt Gingrich is third at 16% and Ron Paul fourth at 9%.

Santorum is better liked by Arizona Republicans than Romney, but the gap isn’t as wide as we’re finding in a lot of other states. Santorum’s at +34 (61/27), while Romney’s at +24 (58/34).

One thing to keep an eye on over the next week is whether Newt Gingrich can hold his support. 16% is pretty good for him compared to what we’re finding other places right now, but only 46% of his voters say they’re solidly committed to him. 40% of his supporters say that Santorum is their second choice, compared to only 25% for Romney. If Gingrich’s supporters see he’s not viable and decide to jump ship the race could get even closer.

If you’re thinking this poll is good news for Romney, have a look at the trendlines in Arizona. Except for a fleeting moment during Newt’s first surge in November, Mitt’s been the leader in Arizona literally for years. Less than three weeks ago, in fact, he was up by 24. Now he’s on the cusp of sliding into second just days before the vote. McCain’s endorsement appears to be doing nothing for him — go figure — but PPP notes that Joe Arpaio and/or Jan Brewer are well liked and could make a difference if they pick a side. Romney must be working desperately behind the scenes to get them on board: Their support might not be worth many points to him but it could be hugely importantly to Santorum as a signal that influential Arizona pols no longer see Romney as inevitable head to head with RS. And needless to say, Mitt getting swept in Michigan and Arizona would make for catastrophic headlines the following day. Losing his home state would be hard enough to spin, but getting wiped out by Santorum on a day of multistate voting for the second time in a month? That could blow up the death star.

And yet … they’re not worried.

And while Eric Fehrnstrom, a top Romney aide, publicly rejected the notion on Monday that Michigan is a “must-win” primary for the candidate, another campaign advisor told BuzzFeed they’re not worried about the polls that show them trailing in the state.

“Obviously, the other contests demonstrated that polls from a week, or two weeks out from decision day aren’t predictive of an eventual outcome,” said the advisor. “Once a message and resources are concentrated in a state and you ask Republicans to make a choice, the numbers tend to move.”…

The campaign has good reason to be skeptical of the media’s recent narrative of doom for Romney. A week ago, the worst poll for Romney, done by Public Policy Polling, had him down 15 points to Rick Santorum in Michigan. Today, after adjusting its initial, less-than-realistic turnout projections, the same polling company has Romney down just four points. And given that Romney’s ads just went on the air in the middle of last week, there’s still plenty of time for his message to sink in and get him over the hump.

Translation: Yes, eight days is plenty of time for the death star to fire. As a gloss on that, go read this short but incisive Walter Shapiro piece explaining Romney’s unusual campaign dilemma. Typically when a viable presidential contender gets in trouble on the trail, he/she can regroup through personal charm, ideological bona fides, and/or savvy messaging. Romney has none of those things in strong supply; he’s viable mainly because his campaign’s good at making everyone else in the field seem less viable, as this hugely depressing graphic vividly demonstrates. It’s taken for granted that fear and loathing of Hopenchange will turn conservatives out in droves in November no matter who the nominee is, but nominating Mitt will be a fascinating test of that theory, especially if the economy continues to improve. Will righties scramble to elect a guy for whom there’s no real affirmative argument? Stay tuned!


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Comment pages: 1 2 3

Actual Arizonan here. Romney will win Az. Arizona will not vote for someone that is unelectable and will not vote for someone who has even the whiff of loon. This impression that AZ is ultra conservative is simply not true. Last go round I posted here that there was no way in hell JD Hayworth would win and some flipped out. Well, guess who was right? Hayworth went down in flames. Trust me, Romney will win.

kit9 on February 21, 2012 at 3:26 AM

Wasn’t McCain was openly positioning himself as a conservative in order to totally neuter JD’s message? Even Sarah endorsed McCain, and publicly campaigned for him in Arizona, at the same time she endorsed Christine O’Donnell. (Yes, that was out of loyalty to McCain, but STILL…)

Myron Falwell on February 21, 2012 at 9:00 AM

How is it an “excuse” to state that Romney’s home state is MA? not Michigan.

g2825m on February 20, 2012 at 4:31 PM

Which only makes the “home state” argument during the NH primary somewhat invalid, now, wouldn’t it?

Myron Falwell on February 21, 2012 at 9:10 AM

The media loves that “Losing their Homestate” message with Romney, and they can count about five places they call his Homestate, but you hardly ever hear them say how horrible it would be if Newt lost his Home State, whichever one that is, but he lives in VA, and will lose his homestate because he screwed up collecting signatures in his HOMESTATE! if Romney did that we would not hear the end of it, and if Santorum over runs Newt in GA, Horreurs, Newt could lose his Home State.

And as for Santorum, he is not saying what his Home State is. He is no longer a State Senator from Pennsylvania, and his residence seems to still be Virginia. And he has already lost that Home State just like Gingrich. And Santorum was born there, like Romney was born in Michigan.

No one said, when Gingrich won SC that it was the state right next door to his Home State, but when Romney went to Maine, he better win it, and when he won NH, it was only because it was his Home State. But next door. Full of runaway Massachusetts residents. Home of his vacation home. The more contiguous states you live near, must be the more Home States you can have.

Media template. Well, they use it when they want to.

Fleuries on February 21, 2012 at 11:37 AM

Conservative primary voters need to read this and decide whether Santorum is being a tad dishonest when he hectors Romney for flipflopping on abortion.

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=_t4cAAAAIBAJ&sjid=3GMEAAAAIBAJ&dq=santorum+progressive&pg=6015%2C5485825

Santorum has never explained this has he? Romney has explained his transformation from being pro-abortion to pro-life many times and has given concrete evidence that he is solidly pro-life.

Is Santorum being dishonest? I have yet to see this on Fox and probably never will.

MadJayhawk on February 22, 2012 at 10:10 PM

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