Santorum tops new poll in Michigan
February 16th, 2012
12:12 PM ET
3 years ago

Santorum tops new poll in Michigan

(CNN) - Mitt Romney may lay claim to home field advantage in Michigan, but according to a new poll released 12 days before the state's Republican primary, Rick Santorum is on top of the field in the race for the GOP presidential nomination.

According to a survey out Thursday by the Detroit News and CNN affiliate WDIV, 34% of likely Republican primary voters say they're backing Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania, with 30% supporting Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who's making his second bid for the White House. Santorum's four point margin is within the poll's sampling error.

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The survey indicates that 12% back former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, with 9% supporting Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and 12% undecided. The poll was conducted entirely after Santorum's victories over Romney, Gingrich and Paul last week in caucuses in Colorado and Minnesota and a non-binding primary in Missouri. Santorum's sweep of the February 7 contests sparked his surge in national and state polling, and cemented the perception that Romney was having a hard time locking down support of core conservatives.

Michigan and Arizona are next up in the primary and caucus calendar, with both states holding primaries on February 28. The 30 delegates up for grabs in Michigan will be divided proportionally, while the 29 delegates at stake in Arizona are winner take all.

Romney grew up in Michigan and his father served as governor in the 1960's. Romney won the 2008 Republican primary in Michigan, edging out eventual GOP nominee Sen. John McCain of Arizona by nine points. But four years later, the Santorum campaign feels they can be competitive in Michigan, as well as Ohio, which votes on Super Tuesday on March 6. Both states are considered part of the Rust Belt, with larger working class populations and strong Catholic communities, which may favor Santorum over Romney.

According to an American Research Group survey released Monday, 33% of likely Michigan GOP primary voters said they were backing Santorum, with 27% supporting Romney, with Gingrich at 21%, Paul at 12% and 6% undecided. Santorum's advantage in the ARG survey was also technically within the poll's sampling error.

The Detroit News poll's release comes as both Romney and Santorum separately campaign in Michigan Thursday. Romney also campaigned in the state Wednesday, defending his opposition in 2008 to the federal government's bailout of Michigan based G.M. and Chrysler.

The auto bailout, put in motion by former President George W. Bush and continued by President Barack Obama, is now widely viewed as a success. Michigan Democrats have seized on the issue as a potential vulnerability for Romney in a state hard hit by the economic downturn. Romney says that a managed bankruptcy would have been a better route to take in helping out the troubled auto makers.

The survey indicates the issue may not matter much to GOP primary voters, with half of the people questioned in the poll say a candidate's opposition to the government loans to the auto industry would not make a different to their vote in the presidential primary. Nearly 20% said it would make them more likely to vote for such a candidate, with 11% saying it would make them less likely to vote for such a candidate.

The Detroit News and CNN affiliate WDIV poll was conducted February 11-13, with 500 likely Michigan GOP primary voters questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

- Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @PSteinhauserCNN


Filed under: 2012 • Michigan • Rick Santorum
soundoff (68 Responses)
  1. Charlotte

    Well when you consider that both candidates are aggressively seeking to win over the dimwits of the population, is it any wonder they will use the most blatantly coercive – and easily refuted with a little thinking but these people are not strong on the thinking side – material in their ads. SO glad I don't have a television. At least once the Party Base (a.k.a. dimwitted uber-rights) selects a candidate, whoever it is is going to swing wildly back toward the center or he has no hope in the general election. Only then is there a chance that legitimate talking points might emerge for debate.

    February 16, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  2. GROVER NORQUIST IS A ENEMY OF THE STATE

    Ayatollah Santorum has a 6 point lead. That spells bad news for the self proclaimed "Son of Detroit." If he loses Michigan, his campaign is over!!! This is music to my ears.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 2012
    ELIZABETH WARREN 2012 & BEYOND

    February 16, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  3. cali girl

    Will be interesting to see. Yesterday Mitt was pedalling his " oh no, I didn't say that" blah blah blah. Keep up the fight Michigan.

    February 16, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  4. Dave

    The strategy of Rick to Embaress Mr. Personality is working. How hard is it to do that to a stiff old filthy rich mormon who hides money overseas & pays a 13.9 % tax. For someone who didnt care what so-ever about those fine people of Michigan & who slings mud & changes his story depending what state he is in.

    February 16, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  5. SafeJourney

    Most Michigan Repub voters do not like Mitt. The millions of $ on ads that Mitts super pac is spending will not make a difference.

    February 16, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  6. a in austin

    How could anyone favor sanitorium – he who wants to take women back to the dark ages even though his own wife lived with an abortion doctor for years. He who rammed government intervention in the Shiavo case. He who lies daily but still touts he is a religious guy. RELIGIOUS RIGHTS DO NOT TRUMP WOMENS RIGHTS.

    February 16, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  7. Media BIAS

    CNN and the rest of media are propping up Santorum. Santorum is too extreme and is no threat to Obama. They are simply doing Axelrod's bidding. Santorum has no record to run on. Once Romney is out of the way they will train their guns on Santorum and Obama will coast to victory and out country will go down the debt drain just like Greece.

    February 16, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  8. YOU Decide 2012: A bankrupt socialist welfare country or a thriving capitalist super power

    Romney's support for a traditional bankruptcy filing for GM and Chrysler angered the unions because they would NOT have had the cars companies gifted to them as Obama did. The taxpayers are STILL out about $25 BILLION on GM and their problems are still not solved.

    February 16, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  9. beevee

    Looks like the "panderer in chief" Mitt is in trouble despite his Michigan roots. I don't think he connected well with michiganians this time and angered many by opposing the auto bail out by the govt. He should stop changing his tunes on issues and raking dust on opponents all the time. Otherwise he is going to bite the dust.

    February 16, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  10. NVa Native

    King of the Apes in the House of Delusion – yea, we all want to be that guy......

    February 16, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  11. vic , nashville ,tn

    Only Rick Santorum can reach to most voters, I hope GOP establishments support Santorum

    February 16, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  12. Dave

    Rick, please keep these Saturday Night Live ads coming, This is extremely entertaining to see an extremely phony man that has stupid money get the due he deserves. No, ALL THE MUDSLINGING & MONEY IN THE WORLD WILL NOT BUY MR.. PERSONALITY THE WHITEHOUSE!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 16, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  13. The Real Tom Paine

    I guess it sucks to be rightie today, because unemployment claims are at a 4 year low, and GM just posted the biggest profit in its history. Too bad there are some who still think that was a bad call, but hey, it started with W and Obama just made sure the bailout happened. Now GM and Chrysler are making money, and Romney looks like an a$$, again.

    February 16, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  14. Som

    Santorum is so boring , Mitt !!!! is the most handsome and exciting man overall..

    February 16, 2012 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  15. Jose Canyusi

    This is just a POLL, people.....and all it proves is mindless Tea party lemmings that suddenly decided to back Santorum are capable of skewing results in polls; Tea party popularity has peaked & like Sarah Palin (remember her?), the Republican big money power base has dismissed them....Romney is the corporate money choice. Forget Gingrich, he alienates the top republicans & you can't lead the country if your own party refuses to follow you. Forget Ron Paul, he's too much of a threat to what republicans stand for & libertarian positions on some issues are just plain nuts.

    It's just more evidence of the turmoil the republican party is in, and their rising desparation due to the realization that they really might not be able to defeat Barack Obama in November, no matter who their candidate is.

    February 16, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  16. knowndoyen

    This pole is done by people backing Obama. The Dems and Obama need all repupblicans to believe Santorum is their guy. They want us to think he has a chance. So look to all the poles everywhere to show Santorum is leading. Obama and his backers are working the poles. If we give Obama the weakest guy he will win. Think about it how many Obama TV ads go after Santorum? Who hard has the Obama train go after Romney? So who is Obama afraid of?

    February 16, 2012 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  17. knowndoyen

    Sorry for the typos. It is: How hard has the Obama train gone after Romney? (fat fingers small keyboard)

    February 16, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  18. Obama 2012

    are Republicans that lost that they are going to Santorum a guy who was a failed senator and is a racist, women degrading nut case i didn't realize they were that desperate oh well they wanta nominate a complete nut case and lose by 40 percent of the vote go right ahead i met Santorum when he was here in Missouri i told he is a nutcase and he should just step aside because he cant beat a real President Like Obama if you guys wanta screw America then vote for Santorum because he will screw America

    February 16, 2012 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  19. Jim in San Mateo

    This Republican primary race is the best thing to happen to the economy since the Clinton 90s. All this campaign money and super pac spending has finally found a way to tax the rich. Perhaps, every time there is recession, the country should hold a special election for Republicans so they can throw all kinds of money into an election that doesn't matter, just like this one.

    After all is said, and not much is done (by Congress mostly), Obama will be our President for the next four years. The Republicans will all stand around and wonder what happened, without stopping to figure out that the fracturing of the party has ripped down their so called "big tent" and left them looking like a bunch of (albeit wealthy) brats. While they are smarting over their self-inflected wounds, the Democrats will get America back on the road to economic and social equality that we have always stood for.

    February 16, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  20. Sandy

    knowndoyen wrote:

    "This pole is done by people backing Obama."

    Do you have any proof of your claims?

    But it's different when the polls support what you believe, right?

    February 16, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  21. ST

    If Romney loses in Michigan, it will be like burning the candle in both sides. He is slowly losing nationally and losing at home (Michigan), that will be another blow.

    February 16, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  22. ourjungle

    Santorum, you are full of suprises....perhaps you do have to right stuff to take Newt out. He is starting to float belly up,and it time for you to move in for the knock out. Newt thinks his new Faith Dream Team is going to help his nose diving image. Did you see the size of his Faith Dream Team....the guy must really be bad off. After all, President Clinton only brought in one spiritual counselor to help him blow smoke in the public's eye when it came to his sexual adventures. You should ask for Secret Service Protection....even if those very vocal,and very young protestors/activists mean you no physical harm....they will sooner or later cause someone physical harm by what they toss. They should be required as a minmun,to pay for the cost of product analysis (what they tossed), and cost of police man hours to process them....before being released back in public.

    February 16, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    I think Democrats are so excited that they are donating to Santorum's campaign and some of these stupid ultra conservative people do not see a thing. They are so blind and have no idea who Santorum is but they just want to vote for him. There we go again, I am afraid we have already elected Obama. God help us. Romney 2012!

    February 16, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  24. Al-NY,NY

    knowndoyen

    This pole is done by people backing Obama. The Dems and Obama need all repupblicans to believe Santorum is their guy. They want us to think he has a chance. So look to all the poles everywhere to show Santorum is leading. Obama and his backers are working the poles. If we give Obama the weakest guy he will win. Think about it how many Obama TV ads go after Santorum? Who hard has the Obama train go after Romney? So who is Obama afraid of?
    ---------------

    WRONG! No one in their right mind thinks Santorum could win the nomination. But he is doing is a great job in exposing Mittens' "finger in the air" mentality, which IS what Obama wants. And by "Obama and his backers are working the poles (sp)," do you mean stripper poles? May poles? Flag poles? Which is it? Oh.....POLLS. Yes that's it!!

    February 16, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  25. Paula

    You have to just love it that a dope like Santorum spent so much less ad money and succeeded to wipe that so-smug grin off Williard's face.

    February 16, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
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