Santorum Inches Ahead of Romney in National Poll

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  • Santorum Now Hiring Poster
    (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)
    A supporter of U.S. Republican presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum advertises for campaign job applicants at the American Conservative Union's annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, February 11, 2012.
By Paul Stanley, Christian Post Reporter
February 14, 2012|2:25 pm

Coming off three impressive regional victories in Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota last Tuesday, Rick Santorum has now moved past Mitt Romney as the voters' top choice in the latest CBS News/New York Times Poll.

Santorum leads Romney by three points, 30 to 27 percent. Texas Congressman Ron Paul is a distant third with 12 percent and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has slipped to fourth place with 10 percent.

The margin of error is +/- three percent, making the race a statistical dead heat for both the two top and bottom positions.

It appears Santorum is trying to capitalize on his strength by mobilizing the evangelical and tea party voters, where he leads Romney, 38 to 24 percent.

The former Pennsylvania senator began the election season with an impressive, albeit, late victory in the Iowa caucuses. As expected, Romney won New Hampshire and Gingrich captured South Carolina after two impressive debate performances that highlighted his quick wit and oratory skills.

Then came Florida, which according to some pundits would be the correction the establishment was looking for to firmly place Romney back in the catbird seat. Gingrich, who seemed to struggle with Florida's diverse GOP vote, lost some footing as a result of not being able to keep up with Romney's heavy media buys in the Sunshine State.

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Nonetheless, the Romney campaign seemed rattled by Santorum's sweep last week, causing some supporters in Romney's camp to suggest he start paying attention to smaller states that were once thought to be slam-dunks.

"He (Romney) has the infrastructure and the talent to do it, to run a national campaign," Rod Collins with Purple State Strategies told The Hill. "He always talks about electability and running a 50-state campaign. Turn it on and let's go."

The new poll numbers, combined with last week's surprise upset by Santorum are also making some of Romney's supporters in Congress a bit uneasy.

"I think it was a big mistake to ignore those states this week," said a senator who endorsed Romney but did not want to be identified. "Now you have three weeks of nothing except for Michigan and Arizona."

What will most likely be a better gauge of evaluating the differences between the campaigns is March 6 or better known as "super Tuesday," where the candidates will go head-to-head in 13 contests.

"Super Tuesday will be a contest between Romney's bankroll and Santorum's appeal," said Louisiana political consultant Mike Bayham. "The fog will lift a little the day after and then we'll see how long a road it is to Tampa."

 

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