Rasmussen in AZ: Romney 48, Gingrich 24

Rasmussen has a couple of interesting polls out today on the Republican primary race, but none yet in Nevada, which I presume will come tomorrow.  Instead, Rasmussen focuses on the Arizona primary that will take place in less than four weeks and act as a springboard for Super Tuesday.  Mitt Romney holds a 2-1 lead and almost a majority, 48/24 over Newt Gingrich:

A new telephone survey of Likely Republican Primary Voters in Arizona shows Romney with 48% support, while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich comes in a distant second with 24%. Thirteen percent (13%) prefer former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, and six percent (6%) support Texas Congressman Ron Paul. Two percent (2%) like some other candidate in the race, and six percent (6%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Fifty-three percent (53%) of Arizona GOP primary voters are already certain of their vote, but 42% say they still could change their minds. Six percent (6%) have no initial preference yet. Voters already sure of their vote include 62% of those supporting both Romney and Paul, 48% of Gingrich’s voters and 46% of Santorum’s.

As is the case virtually everywhere else, the economy is the top voting issue for Arizona GOP primary voters. Forty-nine percent (49%) say economic issues are the most important in terms of how they vote, while 24% say fiscal issues like taxes and government spending are the most important. In Arizona, 47% of GOP primary voters rate their personal finances as good or excellent, while 16% rate them as poor. While 20% say their finances are getting better, 51% say they are getting worse.

Romney is seen as the Republican candidate who would do the best job managing the economy by 54% of primary voters in Arizona, while just 22% view Gingrich that way.

There probably isn’t much mystery to dispel from the internals, but let’s take a look anyway.  The gender gap is back in a big way for Gingrich in Arizona; Romney beats him among women by 33 points, 51/18.  Romney unlocks the “very conservative” demographic in the state, winning by 17, 44/27, and taking majorities in the other two ideological categories.  Gingrich has a slight edge among Tea Party backers, 39/33, but loses to Romney by double digits in every religious, age, and income demographic.

The reasons for Gingrich’s problem are familiar.  His favorability is relatively low at 55/41, with only 16% having a very favorable impression of the former Speaker.  Among women, it’s 49/47. Romney has a 78/21 favorability rating.  Only Ron Paul does worse than Gingrich at 34/61, while Santorum does nicely at 63/29.  On personal character, Romney takes 44% of the respondents, Santorum comes in second at 34%, while Gingrich comes in last at 7%.

Could this change?  There is only one debate on the schedule, but it will be in Arizona, six days before the primary.  Michigan will hold its primary on the same day as Arizona, so Gingrich may choose to split his time or default in Michigan, where Romney will undoubtedly be strong.  However, Gingrich probably can’t win by going negative, not with personal ratings like these, so unless he uncorks a beauty of a performance in that debate, he’s going to get buried.  Meanwhile, Romney gets 57% of the voters who say they’ve made up their minds, and 44% of those who could still change, while Gingrich gets 22% and 30%, respectively.

In Rasmussen’s daily presidential tracking poll, Barack Obama ends up in virtual dead heats with three of the four Republicans in the race.  Guess which one Obama beats outside of the MOE?

In potential Election 2012 matchups, it’s President Obama 46% and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney 45%. However, if former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is the Republican nominee, the president holds an eight point lead, 49% to 41% (see tracking history).  These matchup results are updated daily at 9:30 a.m. Eastern (sign up for free daily e-mail update).  Rick Santorum trails the president by two points, 46% to 44%. Ron Paul trails by three, 45% to 42%.