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Polls show Santorum ahead in Michigan

The American Research Group has a new poll for Michigan, which along with Arizona will be closing out the February presidential primaries.  Mitt Romney was supposed to be strong in Michigan – his father George was governor there throughout most of the 1960s, after all, and is remembered fondly. 

Although polls from early February had Romney up by 15 points, today’s ARG poll, taken over the weekend, have Rick Santorum in the lead:

Rick Santorum 33%

Mitt Romney 27%

Newt Gingrich 21%

Ron Paul 12%

7 percent of respondents were either undecided, or supported another candidate.  ARG’s analysis gives Santorum an even better lead, 36-25, over Romney among definite primary voters, and he leads Gingrich 37-29 among Tea Party supporters.  Romney, however, scores far ahead of both Santorum and Gingrich among self-identified independents.

Meanwhile, Public Policy Polling, working over roughly the same period, gives Santorum an even greater lead, putting him fully 15 points ahead of Romney, with a lot of the extra support apparently coming at the expense of Gingrich:

Rick Santorum 39%

Mitt Romney 24%

Ron Paul 12%

Newt Gingrich 11%

I haven’t seen anything as recent out of Arizona yet, but Romney was a good 25 points ahead at the beginning of February, and he’s got longtime Senator and former Presidential candidate John McCain on his side.  On the other hand, Gingrich was the major Romney alternative back then, and his immigration position was problematic for many Arizona voters.

The Michigan primary is open to Democrats and independents, and in fact the state Democrat Party is allowing registered Democrats to vote in both the GOP primary and the Democrat caucus.  Mischief voters love to make things complicated for the perceived national front-runner.  

Michigan and Arizona have roughly similar numbers of delegates at stake – 30 for Michigan, 29 for Arizona.  Michigan assigns delegates proportionally based on vote totals, while Arizona is winner-take-all.  The symbolic value of a Michigan win would be as important to Santorum as the delegates, and very bad news for Newt Gingrich, who has been hanging on through a tough February, and really wanted to come into the early March primaries as the top alternative to Romney.

Winning a big chunk of Michigan delegates would also help Santorum make the case that he’s a viable alternative to Romney in the long haul.  In fact, if Santorum wins by the kind of margins that PPP poll envisions, and Florida is compelled to assign its delegates proportionally (a decision that won’t be made, one way or the other, until late in the summer) he could end up virtually tied with Romney for delegates.

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Written By

John Hayward began his blogging career as a guest writer at Hot Air under the pen name "Doctor Zero," producing a collection of essays entitled Doctor Zero: Year One. He is a great admirer of free-market thinkers such as Arthur Laffer, Milton Friedman, and Thomas Sowell. He writes both political and cultural commentary, including book and movie reviews. An avid fan of horror and fantasy fiction, he has produced an e-book collection of short horror stories entitled Persistent Dread. John is a former staff writer for Human Events. He is a regular guest on the Rusty Humphries radio show, and has appeared on numerous other local and national radio programs, including G. Gordon Liddy, BattleLine, and Dennis Miller.

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