Rasmussen corroborates the Q-poll from earlier today showing that Mitt Romney has made up significant ground on Rick Santorum in the key Super Tuesday state of Ohio. While Quinnipiac conducted its survey from Tuesday through Thursday this week, Rasmussen conducted its survey of 750 likely voters entirely yesterday. Two weeks after being 18 points behind Santorum in Ohio, Rasmussen now has him within two:
The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Primary Voters in Ohio, taken last night, shows former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum attracting 33% of the vote and Mitt Romney earning 31%. That’s a significant tightening of the race. Two weeks ago, Santorum led Romney by 18 percentage points.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is now in third place with 15% of the vote, and Texas Congressman Ron Paul runs last with 11% support. Two percent (2%) prefer another candidate, and eight percent (8%) remain undecided.
Conventional wisdom is that the continuing candidacy of Newt Gingrich helps Romney, but Rasmussen finds that Romney does slightly better when Gingrich is taken out of the equation:
If it’s a two-man race, Santorum and Romney are tied at 43% each. That, too, represents a huge change. Two weeks ago, Santorum led Romney by 28 points in a head-to-head matchup in Ohio.
The crosstabs are similar to those in the Q-poll this morning. There is almost no difference between men and women and the overall margin, so Santorum has no “gender gap” in Ohio. Santorum does better among younger voters, while Romney has a 15-point edge among seniors. The split between “very conservative” and “somewhat conservative” are nearly mirror images again, 45/25 for Santorum among the former and 42/24 for Romney among the latter. Santorum wins Republicans by three, while Romney wins independents by three. The one interesting difference between the two is that Santorum was winning the highest income group in the Q-poll, while he trails Romney in Rasmussen by six among those who earn more than $100K.
The race is still obviously in flux, and it should be a nailbiter this weekend. Both men have about the same favorability rating in Rasmussen as well as Quinnipiac (66/31 Romney, 67/29 Santorum), so that won’t be a hinge for late-breaking deciders. The biggest factor that could come into play from the Rasmussen poll is the candidate strength question, which Romney wins 45/25 and gets a consensus double-digit lead across almost all demos (only a four-point lead among very conservative voters and two points among Tea Party voters, however). Santorum will have to make the case in Ohio that he’s better positioned to beat Barack Obama in the fall, especially since a plurality of 49% say that’s the most important quality in choosing a nominee.
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