The focus of the Republican primary fight will fall mainly on tonight’s debate and the results of Tuesday’s elections in Arizona and Michigan, but Rick Santorum continues to show strength in Super Tuesday fights that take place the following week.  Rasmussen polled Oklahoma this week and found Santorum far out in front with 43% of the vote — and Romney in third place behind Newt Gingrich:

 The latest statewide survey of Likely GOP Primary voters shows Santorum with 43% of the vote followed by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich with 22% and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney at 18%. Texas Congressman Ron Paul draws seven percent (7%) support. Just two percent (2%) prefer some other candidate in the race, while seven percent (7%) are undecided.

In a one-on-one matchup between the national front-runners, Santorum holds a commanding 65% to 27% lead over Romney in the Sooner State.

Paul’s poor showing is something of a surprise.  Oklahoma neighbors Texas, Paul’s home state, and has a reputation for libertarian-tinged conservatism.  Obviously that hasn’t come into play in this race, with Santorum out to a big lead, and this has to raise questions about where Paul goes next to get any kind of traction at all.  Paul gets 14% in his home state, but Texas had to postpone their primary to the end of the cycle in late May at the earliest.

Interestingly, for all of the talk about a potential gender gap. Santorum actually does better with women (45/20 over Gingrich) than men (41/23).  He wins all age demos by 40+ pluralities, and gets a majority among “very conservative” voters (54/24) and a narrower plurality among “somewhat conservative” voters (36/23).  Santorum wins every income demo and every religious demo, winning a majority of evangelical Christians and 43% of Catholics.  He gets half of those whose votes are certain, as well as 44% among those who could still change their minds.  Santorum gets an amazing 84/13 favorability rating in Oklahoma and bests Romney on electability against Obama, albeit narrowly at 35/30.

Romney needs a narrative-changing moment, and he’s made his attempt today already.  His campaign released more of his tax plan today in an attempt to set the narrative for tonight’s debate.  He cuts tax rates across the board and eliminates capital-gains taxes for “most” earners:

Mitt Romney released a new tax plan Wednesday that calls for a 20 percent across-the-board cut to individual tax rates.

Romney would also reduce the corporate tax rate and put an end to the capital gains tax for most taxpayers.

The new proposal follows up on Romney’s 59-point plan and seemed intended to bigfoot the corporate tax reform proposal unveiled by the Obama administration on Wednesday. Romney slammed Obama’s proposal after the GOP candidate released his own ideas.

Every bracket would see a reduction in rates, and Romney would go in the opposite direction on earnings oversees.  Rather than impose a “global minimum tax,” Romney would end taxes on repatriated profits altogether, in order to compete with other Western nations.  Romney also promised more details on trimming “high-end deductions” in order to ensure that the wealthy continue paying “their current share or more,” which might be tricky if the cap-gains tax rate goes to zero.

Fox News briefs viewers on what’s at stake in tonight’s debate:

Romney needs a win in Michigan to keep from having his campaign depicted as wounded and struggling. The tax proposal is part of the effort to change the narrative, and in a positive direction. It may be too late for Romney to rescue Oklahoma, but he cannot afford to lose any more in the middle of the country, including and especially his native state of Michigan.