Mesa, Arizona (CNN) – On the eve of the final Republican presidential debate before primaries in Arizona and Michigan, as well as the 10 Super Tuesday states, a new survey indicates that Rick Santorum may be closing the gap with Mitt Romney in the Grand Canyon State.
According to a CNN/Time/ORC International poll released Tuesday, 36% of people likely to vote in Arizona's February 28th GOP presidential primary say they're backing Romney as their party's nominee, with 32% supporting Santorum. The former Massachusetts governor's four point margin over the former senator from Pennsylvania is within the survey's sampling error, meaning they are basically tied for the top spot.
See full results (pdf)
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The poll indicates that 18% are backing former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, with 6% supporting Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and 6% unsure. Surveys conducted earlier this year by other organizations indicated Romney with a larger lead over the rest of the field of candidates.
Santorum surged in state and national polling after sweeping the February 7th contests in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri.
The four major GOP White House hopefuls will face off Wednesday at a CNN/Republican Party of Arizona debate in Mesa, the first GOP showdown in nearly a month.
The CNN/Time/ORC poll indicates that roughly a third of all likely voters say that they could change their minds between now and February 28, emphasizing the importance of CNN's debate as well as the final week of campaigning.
"Arizona Republicans display many of the same ideological divisions that drove the results in earlier primaries and caucuses," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Santorum wins the born-again vote in Arizona by nine points but loses among non-evangelical Republicans by 12 points. Romney loses by three points among tea party supporters but has a 15-point lead among Republicans who oppose the tea party or are neutral toward it."
The new poll indicates that Arizona's geography may also play a big role in the battle for the state's 29 delegates at stake in the primary, which are winner-take-all.
"Romney has a 10-point lead in urban areas, but manages no better than a tie in suburban and rural Arizona. As a result, Romney is ahead in Maricopa County but is tied, 33% to 33% in the rest of the state," adds Holland. Maricopa County is where Phoenix and its surrounding cities are located and represents roughly 60 percent of the state's population.
"Class and gender may also play a role on February 28, with Romney doing best among Republican women and among GOPers who describe themselves as white collar," Holland notes.
Michigan, the other state that votes on February 28, has 30 delegates up for grabs, which will be divided proportionally.
The CNN/Time poll was conducted by ORC International from February 17-20, with 467 registered Republicans who are likely to vote in the Arizona GOP presidential primary questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 4.5% points.
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We need Romney! Best thing he ever did for Massachusetts was to Socialize Medicine!!
Rick San-ctimonium or Myth Rombot. I wonder which is the giant dooosh and which the turd sandwich?
CNN has no better actual News to Report so for their Debate Propoganda Yesterday they are fabricating the Polls.
CNN isn't swaying any of us, we are free thinkers who know idiots when we see and hear them. Among the entire pack of Republican's running for nomination there's not one qualified to win; a womanizer with half-million line of credit at a Tiffany's and shady business deals with Fannie/Freddie Mac; a religious nut-job who thinks the Vatican should rule America and send the women back to pre-vote days; a Mormon who thinks $300K isn't a lot of money and sent jobs offshore and then the old geezer who would dissolve the entire Federal government and send us back to the wild-west days. So this is the cream of the Republican crop? Your cream has soured.
I can't figure out if I'm more amused by, or scared of, Santorum. He is neo-con nutcase right-winger. I couldn't imagine ANYONE in the middle would even consider voting for him. But that's the same thing I thought of Dubya, until he came close enough in the first election to have it illegally declared his, then actually won the second one. Scary!!
Romney will be buried in Santorum.
The GOP is finished as a serious political party until it shows the evangelical churcher freaks to the door. America is not a theocracy, and most of us don't care one bit about religion or religious issues. We care about jobs, foreclosures, health care, war, climate change, and national security - things that the GOP isn't talking about in their wall-to-wall Jeebus nonsense.
I am a Republican but I would never vote for Rick Santorum.
@jimbrown, if by everyone, you mean straight, Evangelical Catholic, White men, I TOTALLY agree with you!
Someone needs to remind Ron the Holy that he's running for president, not pope.
rick santorum is the next to the last "not romney". The very last will be President Obama.
Biden in '16!
WHO CARES???? Nobody in their right mind will elect either of these insane zealots. It's Obama 2012 all the way! How pathetic that these gits are a true representation of the GOP!
Thank God for Santorum.. he has announced his plan to defeat the devil. No need to worry about terrorist or the ecoomy, he has more important things to do... defeat the devil. I guess he heard that that dude named Jesus wasn't able to do it, so now it is his job. Yep, that is who I want as my president... someone who can defeat the devil.
Does anybody else get depressed when the realize that such a large percentage of the US is stupid? Why are so many people religious in this era of scientific discovery? Pretty much the entire Bible has been debunked.
18% still support Newt ? That seems pretty generous.
It is obvious that Romney could beat Obama in November. It's that clear – giving Santorum the vote is handing Obama 4 more years. Mitt Romney is THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN BEAT OBAMA. Are you listening?
I guess CNN is for Santorum. That is not a breaking news. Some of these Liberal CNN people wish to see Santorum win so Obama will beat him. I pray to God your wishes will not come true! Are you guys getting paid by Obama campgaign by any chance?!
And the Democrats are dancing with glee!!!
And the other side is dancing with glee!
"I am sure that most of America is center right, not far right or left."
Don't be so sure. While many Americans will self-identify that way, they are more center-left when polled on support for specific policies. A real mind-bender occurred in 2008 when voters were given anonymous position papers. The candidate whose positions were most favored? Dennis Kucinich!
More proof: Three quarters of Americans want a millionaire tax, including half of rank and file GOBP voters. Yet the party itself, including Rmoney, refuse to go along with the command of the public. Hmmmmmm.
only one thing comes to mind.....
Hey GOP, Enough of the horse and pony show. Where are your real canidates?
Looks like the 'Santorum' is spreading....ewwwwwwwwwwww.