Rasmussen: Three-way tie in Alabama

Rasmussen has conducted the first post-Super Tuesday poll in the key primary state of Alabama, where voters will decide on Tuesday which Republican to back for the nomination.  They found a three-way virtual tie for the lead, with Newt Gingrich up one point over Rick Santorum and two points over Mitt Romney:

Alabama Republicans are up to bat next, and right now it’s a near three-way tie going into next Tuesday’s primary.

The first Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Republican Primary Voters in Alabama finds Newt Gingrich barely ahead with 30% support to 29% for Rick Santorum and 28% for Mitt Romney. Texas Congressman Ron Paul trails with seven percent (7%) of the vote. One percent (1%) prefers some other candidate, and six percent (6%) remain undecided.

The big surprise here is Romney’s standing.  Romney supposedly doesn’t play well in the South, and yet here he is within the margin of error for the lead.  That changes, though, if Gingrich drops out of the race.  Santorum would beat Romney 50/39 — but Rasmussen didn’t poll for a Gingrich-Romney matchup, either.

The internals are all over the place, as one might imagine a three-way tie.  Santorum and Gingrich tie for the “very conservative” vote, 34/34 with just 21% for Romney.  Romney wins both the “somewhat conservative” and “other” votes; 34/30/25 over Ginrich then Santorum in the former, and 36/20/17 over Santorum then Gingrich in the latter.  Favorability ratings are very close:

  • Gingrich: 66/32
  • Santorum: 71/27
  • Romney: 62/35

However, Romney has a double-digit lead on relative strength against Obama, 40/27 over Gingrich, with Santorum at 20%.  That will be very important as late-breaking voters make their decisions, because 55% of respondents believe that their priority is to choose the candidate who can best beat Barack Obama, while only 39% will base their decision on “Republican values.”  If Romney is this close, that may be enough to put him over the top.

It’s been conventional wisdom that Gingrich has to win both Alabama and Mississippi in order to continue in the race.  If Romney wins Alabama, though, it might be enough to make a case that neither Santorum or Gingrich has much reason to continue.

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