PPP: Romney with edge in Michigan, crushing lead in Arizona

posted at 8:40 am on February 27, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

For a while after Rick Santorum’s sweep in early February, it appeared that Mitt Romney might be on the ropes in the Republican primary.  Santorum once held a significant lead in Michigan and close to a tie in Arizona, and seemed poised for another multi-state upset.  According to the latest polling from PPP in both states, though, the momentum has swung in the other direction.  In PPP’s poll of Michigan, Romney has begun to edge Santorum one day ahead of their primary, but also with a significant lead in early voting:

Mitt Romney’s taken a small lead over Rick Santorum in PPP’s newest Michigan poll. He’s at 39% to 37% for Santorum, 13% for Ron Paul, and 9% for Newt Gingrich. Compared to a week ago Romney’s gained 6 points, while Santorum’s just stayed in place.

Romney will go into election day with a large lead in the bank. Only 16% of Michigan voters say they’ve already cast their ballots, but Romney has a whooping 62-29 advantage over Santorum with that group. Santorum actually leads Romney 39-34 with those who are planning to cast their votes on Tuesday, but he’d need to win election day voters by even more than that to neutralize the advantage Romney’s built up.

The last week of the campaign in Michigan has seen significant damage to Santorum’s image with GOP voters in the state. His net favorability has declined 29 points from +44 (67/23) to now only +15 (54/39). Negative attacks on Romney meanwhile have had no negative effect with his favorability steady at +20 (57/37). Two weeks ago Santorum’s net favorability in Michigan was 34 points better than Romney’s. Now Romney’s is 5 points better than Santorum’s. Those kinds of wild swings are the story of the GOP race.

One place Santorum may have hurt himself in the last week is an overemphasis on social issues. 69% of voters say they’re generally more concerned with economic issues this year to only 17% who pick social issues. And with the overwhelming majority of voters more concerned about the economy, Romney leads Santorum 45-30. Santorum’s winning those more concerned about social issues 79-12 but it’s just not that big a piece of the pie.

The debate did Santorum no favors in Michigan, although it may have been the aftermath of the debate that did more damage. Instead of focusing on a positive message, Santorum felt the need to go after Romney hard — much like Newt Gingrich did in Florida.  Santorum got his surge by sticking to blue-collar economics and directing his passionate attacks against Barack Obama rather than his Republican competitors; it appears that the mediocre debate performance knocked Santorum off of his previously-successful strategy.

The sample in this case looks pretty solid.  The D/R/I in the sample for Michigan’s open primary is 5/67/28 — a near duplicate of the exit poll from Michigan’s 2008 primary of 7/68/25.  Forty-two percent identified themselves as evangelical Christians, which seems high against the 2008 exit polling, which didn’t ask the question the same way but had 40% Protestants, 29% Catholics, and 19% “other Christians.”  Whatever problems Santorum has in this poll, they’re not related to the sampling.

Arizona would have been a long shot for Santorum under any circumstances, and PPP’s new poll makes it clear that Romney will get an easy ride in the winner-take-all state:

Mitt Romney is headed for an overwhelming victory in Arizona’s primary on Tuesday. He’s at 43% to 26% for Rick Santorum, 18% for Newt Gingrich, and 11% for Ron Paul.

You can make a fair argument that Romney’s already won the Arizona primary. Almost half of those planning to vote have already cast their ballots, and Romney has a 48-25 advantage over Santorum with those folks. That lead makes it nearly impossible for Santorum to make up the difference on election day, and Romney has a 39-27 advantage with those planning to vote on Tuesday anyway.

Romney’s winning basically winning every voter group in Arizona, even those he’s tended to do quite poorly with. He leads Santorum 39-33 with Evangelicals, 39-23 with Tea Party voters (Santorum’s in 3rd, Gingrich is actually 2nd at 30%), and 37-29 with those describing themselves as ‘very conservative.’ We project the Mormon vote at 14%. Romney leads 77-9 with them, but he has a 38-29 advantage with non-Mormons as well. Seniors are a key base of support for him in Arizona as they are everywhere. He leads 53-22 with them.

ARG has it much closer in Arizona at 39/35 Romney in a poll taken Thursday and Friday.  However, they also show a big advantage for Romney among early voters, 50/29, and 48% of their sample had already cast their ballots.

A loss in Arizona won’t matter as much to Santorum as a loss in Michigan will.  A loss in a key Rust Belt state, where Santorum’s draw among blue-collar workers should be felt most, will be seen as a setback after his large polling leads of a week ago.  Santorum needs the momentum from at least one win to help him sail through a tough Super Tuesday next week.  We’ll see what other pollsters say about Michigan today, but with Rasmussen also seeing a Santorum slide to second (by six points rather than two), the PPP poll doesn’t look like an outlier.


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Someone already may have pointed out this critical detail of the above poll-related commentary…. This is incredibly important…

… but Romney has a whooping 62-29 advantage over Santorum with that group.

A whooping advantage?

(sarc)

Danny on February 27, 2012 at 4:05 PM

“(Romney) leads…39-23 with Tea Party voters…and 37-29 with those describing themselves as ‘very conservative.’”

In other news, mysterious green pods have begun turning up in the homes of Tea Party voters and those describing themselves as ‘very conservative.’

Crusty on February 27, 2012 at 4:17 PM

Now if we could only rid ourselves of the Pope Hat Brigade…

EddieC on February 27, 2012 at 10:38 AM

Bwahahahahahah!!!

csdeven on February 27, 2012 at 4:29 PM

No harm, no foul; it’s just a difference of opinion–not a difference of hope in the ultimate outcome.

Dime IV on February 27, 2012 at 10:57 AM

I know that the amount of rancorous Romney hate here at HA is coming from just a few bat$hit crazy loons. They represent the tiniest portion of the smallest iota of a minority that their non participation wont be statistically measurable. I maintain that a majority of the GOP will vote for our nominee, even if it is Romney.

I am convinced that Romney’s plan has been to attract the indies throughout the primary and the general. This has meant he must moderate his language. For example, people here have apoplectic fits because Romney would not say Obama is a socialist. Obama, as a person, is very well liked. You do not call a guy with that kind of popularity nasty names.

When the time comes, Romney will go hard after Obama. Just as he is with his primary opponents.

csdeven on February 27, 2012 at 4:36 PM

csdeven on February 27, 2012 at 4:36 PM

You are so wrong but keep on drinking that Kool aid. The carpet bombing you all have done is disgraceful and indicates a character weakness. Romney has limited appeal except to NASCAR team owners, Grey poupon salespeople, Cadilac dealerships, tanning salons owners, in other words a very limited audience (witness the empty stadium he gave a ‘major’ economic speech from. In short he is an empty suit, playing in an empty stadium to some very elite fans. Thank you establishment for providing a wealthy Bob Dole as our next candidate. Thanks to Mittens, we may lose the house. You fellows are extremely naive if you think America will buy what he’s sellin’ – cause it’s the same thing we’ve had the past three years.

Fuquay Steve on February 27, 2012 at 5:05 PM

You are so wrong but keep on drinking that Kool aid. The carpet bombing you all have done is disgraceful and indicates a character weakness. Romney has limited appeal except to NASCAR team owners, Grey poupon salespeople, Cadilac dealerships, tanning salons owners, in other words a very limited audience (witness the empty stadium he gave a ‘major’ economic speech from. In short he is an empty suit, playing in an empty stadium to some very elite fans. Thank you establishment for providing a wealthy Bob Dole as our next candidate. Thanks to Mittens, we may lose the house. You fellows are extremely naive if you think America will buy what he’s sellin’ – cause it’s the same thing we’ve had the past three years.

Fuquay Steve on February 27, 2012 at 5:05 PM

The facts do not BARE any of this out. Romney is the leader in delegates and in the popular vote which he will likely hold in both primaries tomorrow. Your stadium quote has already been debunked as the Detroit Economic Forum came out and blamed themselves for that mishap…but what you and others fail to recognize and GIVE ROMNEY CREDIT for is that move came because TOO MANY PEOPLE showed up for the original event…hence, his popular support…and again borne out by the results across the country so far. :o)

Go Romney!

g2825m on February 27, 2012 at 5:21 PM

Face it, Mitt Romney will win the nomination. All you Santorum lovers just can’t accept it, and will suck your thumb in frustration because you would rather sit it out than accept Romney. Don’t realize that you are putting an avowed Marxist back into office. Don’t realize that this country is going to hell with Obama in office. Accept the fact that four more years of Obama will fulfill his dream of a Muslim society predominent in this country. Look forward to a Supreme Court that will shatter the constitution. If you thought Obamacare was bad, wait until you see socialized medicine as the only care. I have gone through many presidents in my lifetime. I thought Carter was the worst, but Obama tops him by a mile. With a diminished military incapable of fighting two wars at the same time we will become another third world country. I am not saying that Romney is the cure-all; I am an avowed conservative, but Gingrich and Santorum are part of the Washington establishment. I didn’t like NcCain but I voted for him when he was nominated.

Big Nicholas on February 27, 2012 at 6:06 PM

g2825m on February 27, 2012 at 5:21 PM

If romney is the leader you said he is, why did he not convince those that ran the event to move the event to a more suitable site. An empty stadium, i assume he agreed to it, does not project the proper image of such a man of the people (at least some claim). We are supposed to follow a guy who can’t lead his supporters to make this event come across presidential at least optically, if not substancewise? Smartest man in the room? I think not. Leader, I think not. Next president, I think not.

Fuquay Steve on February 27, 2012 at 6:56 PM

So, when he makes a pledge to repeal it,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ni6vp7Qgau4

you don’t believe him?

Gunlock Bill on February 27, 2012 at 1:37 PM

Let’s just say I find it a bit less believable than “Read my lips, no new taxes.”

Another pledge we were sure would be kept because breaking it would be political suicide.

How did that work out?

tom on February 27, 2012 at 7:42 PM

There’s a reason why Reagans don’t get elected often. It’s the same reason that the country keeps moving to the left even though we’ve had more Republican presidents than Democrats.

It’s because much of the Republican party will only vote for an icky social conservative if they see no other way to put a Republican in office. Give them any alternative, and they’ll vote for a Dole, a Bush, or even — God help us, a Romney — for fear of being criticized by the media.

No one really wants a Romney. Unless he’s paying their salary, or they just want a fellow Mormon to win.

tom on February 27, 2012 at 7:55 PM

Hang in there Ron Paul!

Decoski on February 27, 2012 at 10:01 PM

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