Polls: All tied up between Romney and Santorum
February 14th, 2012
08:56 AM ET
2 years ago

Polls: All tied up between Romney and Santorum

Washington (CNN) - The race for the Republican presidential nomination appears to be all knotted up between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, according to three new national surveys.

A CBS News/New York Times poll released Tuesday morning indicates that 30% of likely Republican primary and caucus voters say they are backing Santorum for their party's nomination, with Romney at 27%, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas at 12% and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 10%. Santorum's three-point advantage over Romney is within the survey's sampling error.

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According to a Pew Research Center Poll that came out Monday afternoon, Santorum's at 30% nationally among Republicans and independent voters who lean towards the GOP, with Romney at 28%, Gingrich at 17% and Paul at 12%. Santorum's two-point margin over Romney is well within the survey's sampling error.

And the latest edition of the Gallup Daily Tracking poll, released Monday afternoon, indicates that 32% of registered Republicans say they are backing Romney for their party's nomination, with Santorum at 30%, former Gingrich at 16% and Paul at 8%. Romney's two-point margin over Santorum is within the survey's sampling error.

Santorum has surged 14 points in the Gallup Daily Tracking poll over the past week, while Romney's dropped seven points, Gingrich has slipped six points, and Paul has edged down three points.

All three surveys were conducted entirely after Santorum's victories over Romney, Gingrich and Paul last Tuesday in caucuses in Colorado and Minnesota and a non-binding primary in Missouri. Santorum's sweep of the February 7 contests sparked a surge for the one-time long shot candidate in national and state polling.

Two of the surveys indicate that Santorum's jump in the polls is largely fueled by increased support from self-described conservatives, evangelical Christians and supporters of the tea party movement. The CBS/New York Times poll indicates that Santorum is backed by nearly four in 10 voters from each of these groups. Their survey last month indicated that no candidate was the clear favorite among these groups.

There are similar findings in the Pew survey, where Santorum has double digit leads over Romney among self-described tea party movement supporters and among white evangelical voters.

One constant in this race for the GOP nomination is fluidity. And the CBS/New York Times poll highlights that uncertainty among voters. A majority of those who backed a candidate said they could still change their minds. That's down from nearly three-quarters last month, but still more than high enough to shake things up.

National polling is often a lagging indicator, but a rise in such surveys can help candidates when it comes to building momentum, which can help with fundraising.

"The primary wins have given Santorum wind at his back, which is important, but he'll need the infrastructure to build a sail to capture that wind if he's to be successful in future states," said GOP strategist Doug Heye, a former communications director for the Republican National Committee.

Romney edged out Santorum Saturday in a non-binding straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference, and topped Paul by less than 200 votes in the Maine caucuses, which were announced later that day. Arizona and Michigan are next up in the primary and caucus calendar. Both states hold primaries on February 28.

According to the Pew poll, President Barack Obama leads Romney 52% to 44% in a hypothetical general election matchup, with Obama topping Santorum 53% to 43% and beating Gingrich 57% to 39%.

The CBS News/New York Times poll was conducted between February 8 and February 13, with 331 Republican primary or caucus voters nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus five percentage points.

The Pew Poll was conducted between February 8 and February 12, with 1,172 registered voters nationwide, including 552 Republican or independents who lean towards the GOP, questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error for registered voters is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, with a sampling error of plus or minus five percentage points for Republican nomination questions.

The Gallup Daily Tracking poll was conducted between February 8 and February 12, with 1,000 registered Republicans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

– Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @PSteinhauserCNN


Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • Newt Gingrich • Polls • Republicans • Rick Santorum • Ron Paul
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    If Mittens loses Michigan, unlimited funds or not, he should bow out of the race and let Newt, Rick and Ron fight it out.

    February 14, 2012 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  2. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    I just read that Mittens may have paid for people to vote for him in the Maine caucus. If that is the way to get republican votes, he will need 80 million votes to win the presidency at $50 per vote, means he will only need $4 billion to pay off the voters.

    February 14, 2012 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  3. Larry in Houston

    we'll see how "tied up" it will be, once Michigan & AZ voting rolls around, 28th of Feb.

    February 14, 2012 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  4. Jim

    How can a poll of 1,000 registered voters be an accurate representation of the entire United States..? This shows virtually no value.

    February 14, 2012 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  5. ST

    With all the money burnt, years campaigning of Romney and yet Santorum came very far behind to be equally in polls!!!What about Romney to call it a quit and save his time and money. He is not going to make it, I said it right from the beginning. There is nothing which will make conservatives change their mind and support him.

    February 14, 2012 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  6. Rudy NYC

    I think Republican primary voters are not going to coronate Mitt Romney, no matter what the establishment wants. Voters cannot decide who they dislike the most out of their choices, but yet they are forced to vote for who they dislike the least. It would be really interesting to give them a chance at the ballot boxes to vote for who they dislike the most, eliminate the winner, and do it again until their is only one left. If they did that, Santorum would easily win.

    February 14, 2012 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  7. GROVER NORQUIST IS A ENEMY OF THE STATE

    Boy o' boy. Willard's in trouble. The GOBP have switched to talking about socila issues which Willard has no foot to stand on. He's flip flopped on way too many social issues. All that flip flopping is going to eventually catch up with him.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 2012
    ELIZABETH WARREN 2012 & BEYOND

    February 14, 2012 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  8. Jerry from Dallas

    Romney is raising money from his friends with overseas bank accounts to buy elections. Fine,let him spend but he will never be president. This is a year where money from these filthy rich fraudsters will not results into votes. A year ago I wrote that Obama will win in Texas. I thought my own Governor and fellow conservatives were watching! Today's State Polls proves me right! Obama is above any of our Republican candidate here in TX. Sad because we saw it coming! THE GENERAL PUBLIC IS NOT WITH OUR REPUBLICAN LEADERS. OUR LEADERS ARE IN-BED WITH WALL STREET(1%) WHO ARE BANKROLLING THEM TO THE VERY DEMISE OF OUR CONSERVATIVE IDEOLOGY.

    February 14, 2012 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  9. Thomas

    What a choice ,

    Catholic Fascist Federation or Mormon Mafia Moderat .

    February 14, 2012 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  10. Paul1st

    What are the Santorum supporters thinking? His view of the Presidency is closer to being the Catholic Pope or a Christian version of the Iranian Ayatollah and that will turn off independent voters in the general election.

    February 14, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  11. george of the jungle

    what a choice the repos have

    February 14, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  12. v_mag

    Money Clown vs. Scary Clown. The Repugnants are looking more disorganized every day. Kind of like Democrats in that way. They usually like things orderly and controlled, so that the people do as they're told and worship the rich. Looks like the tea bagger rabble and religious nuts are rocking the establishment boat (or should I say yacht?). Democrats may do very well this year, despite themselves.

    February 14, 2012 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  13. Stop the Charade

    Ricky Santorum has about the same chance of being President as he does being chosen Miss Pennsylvania.

    February 14, 2012 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  14. Satberry

    Willard should just drop out.I have never seen such a crass and uncaring pathological lier in all my life.Please America do not allow Willard near the White House.He cannot be trusted.

    February 14, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  15. diridi

    none of these two are winnable and trustworthy.

    February 14, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  16. donna

    It seems totally manufactured to me. The Republican establishment is fixing the race. Santorum was always in the race for VP.

    February 14, 2012 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  17. diridi

    This nation is on right track. Going smoothly. No wars, no Pakistan 20Billion dollars aid. o.k, Manufacturing is coming back from China, India, etc, I saw saw hiring signs in several places. Obama2012.

    February 14, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  18. anagram_kid

    The GOP/TP has two primary problems 1) They want to beat President Obama more than they want a good leader. 2) Their party has been overtaken by by religious extremists, bigots and an anti-intellectual base. The candidates have to appeal to that base and said candidates cannot win a general election.

    I think they should stick with their principals and nominate Sen. Santorum. After his staggering loss, maybe the GOP will rid themselves of this element once and for all.

    February 14, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  19. Randy, San Francisco

    The problems for the eventual GOP/Tea Party nominee: 1. the economy is improving which bodes well for Obama 2. the nominee will have to move further to the right of the political spectrum to satisfy social conservatives, which means a lost of moderate and independent voters in the general election 3. Romney and Santorum lacks Obama's charisma and debating skills.

    February 14, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  20. Marie MD

    I was walking by one of our lunchrooms and saw midlle ages ricky giving a speech, Tacoma maybe, and the illumination around him while giving his speech really reminded me of a another crazy person, from what I have seen, hitler himself!
    That alone was scary!!!

    February 14, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  21. rs

    Fascinating turn of events. If the Republicans succomb to Santorum's brand of ubber radicalism, they have essentially already lost in 2012 as they will only attrack the 25-30% of the super-rightist TEA Party Republicans and will write off all possible Democratic or Independent voters.

    February 14, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |