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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CNN and MSNBC are getting paid by Obama campaign. So they would love to see Santorum be our Republican nominee, God Forbid! God Bless President Romney 2012!
I will not be voting for either of these two guys, but it's fascinating to watch what republicans are doing to themselves. Train wreck. They have undercut the one candidate they had who could have won the thing. And why? Because of his religion?
VERY IRONIC. Protestant voters were afraid of JFK (a Catholic) in the 1960 election because they thought he would impose the teaching of the Catholic Church on America. Which he never did in any way. But in 2012, we have Santorum (another Catholic) getting support from Evangelical Prostestants because he WILL impose his religious beliefs on the country.
I hope Santorum is enjoying his time at the top... it's not going to last.
A mark against ANY GoP candidate is the degree of his support in Arizona - or is it AziZANY ? ?
We are NUTZ ! ! !
Mitt Romney looks presidential , Will bring dignity and Morals to the white house.
THIS IS A FACT : Every CNN on air employee knows how bias and down right mean and nasty they are when it comes to Republican candidate coverage. When was the last time CNN questioned Barack Obama on anything ? WHEN ?????? It just does not happen.
It's on air talent like Gloria Borger who is often uninformed, rude and classless. What a shame.
Excellent news! Santorum will galvanize the laziest of democrats and independents in the way Obama could not dream of even with gazillions of dollars.
"America needs Mitt Romeny. A lot of Democrats will vote for Romney."
LOL! Dream on. A lot of Republicans won't even vote for Flipper the Elitist Robot. And no country needs a vile vulture corporatist. Rmoney is GWB 2.0, just another spoiled rich kid riding daddy's coattails and pallin' around with neocons. He's GWB minus the compassion and public speaking skills.
Stop the music, Stop the music! Where is Newt?
Obama will beat either of these guys. You know why? Because Obama is better. You know why? Because Obama told me so.
Pay no attention to his floundering record. Pay no attention to the escalating oil prices, the paralyzed housing market, the incredible amount of underemployed and unemployed Americans. Pay no attention to the Iranian buildup, or the horrific realities of the "islamo-democracy spring". Pay no attention to temporary politicians placing permanent burdens and deficits upon the next generation of Americans.
Obama says he is great, so he must be great.
Those of you, like Santorum, who don't value Science, value ignorance and you are ruining the great minds of this country.
What a sad commentary on the current Republican party. A former senator who couldn't even win re-election in his home state, and a venture capitalist who could beat the man who couldn't beat Obama.
Media manipulation at it's finest!
Can everybody say Open GOP Convention.....There is no way Santorum will be the GOP candidate against Obama..His views are too extreme for the national voters..He has the K-Street Jack Abarmoff scandal and the Personhood Pledge and the Tea Party, and is another Bible waving War Monger....So are we going to get the Credit Card processor state Governor..Big Bank supporter for more of the same, and drill-baby-drill....or are we going to finally get off imported oil, like the Pentagon wants for our own National Security, and re-elect Obama,,while we vote out every member of Congress that signed Grover Norquist's pledge...and send Grover Norquist into the History Books...
Figures. Republicans are for a guy that's against birth control and women's rights.
Thus the end of the Republican party – thank Allah!
You libs are hysterical, with your repeated "GOP is finished" chants.
We are less than 16 months removed from one of the greatest political massacres in recent history, where the GOP surged like no other party has surged in our lifetimes. And just a few minutes later, you all write off your opponents as a dead party.
I know you all don't believe this. But for those of you loudmouths who do, you are embarrassing your own comrades in a way that reminds me how I was embarrassed by the fiscal irresponsibility of my own party during the 2000-2006 period.
DEMs: you say democrats are "running scared" because of "Obama's declaration of war on religions...." Umm... WHAT war? He hasn't done anything to attack religions. The stuff you've heard is basically SPIN by the GOP to try and create a story from nothing. It may fire up the base for a week or two - maybe even catapult Santorum to candidacy - but nobody will care or even remember this story by the end of March.
The one who really wants a war with religions (that aren't his) is Santorum. He advocates making the government follow God's laws - by which he means HIS interpretation of God's laws. Any religion that differs from that interpretation will suffer.
Every Poll i have read for the GOP nomination has only included White Persons over the age of 50. I will give this poll credit that the others have not, it did include people earning less than $50K per year.
I am Catholic and I am absolutely ASHAMED and DISGUSTED by what Santorum stands for. Being religious does not mean one has to throw out RATIONAL THOUGHT. Many Catholics and religious folk strongly support SCIENCE and EVOLUTION. This guy will destroy America. OBAMA 2012!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Seriously, Rick Santorum? Is this a JOKE? This guy has some of the most backwards ideas ever. He'd like to take women back to the stone age. Instead of answering straightforward questions, Santorum will deflect and go on the offensive, totally avoiding the original question. This guy is scary. Wake up people.
This is the real world.
I am thankful Senator Santorum is speaking up for our great country. He will bring hope back – real hope, and bring our country back TOGETHER. United we stand, divided we fall. Senator Santorum will bring jobs back to our country, so Americans can once again return to work; give our country energy independence; work with other countries without selling out our values, and our allies; ensure freedoms for ALL our citizens; enforce our laws; stop the attack on our own states; and welcome others to come to our country – the right way. God Bless America!
Obama is looking more and more like the winner in the next election. Santorum has no appeal outside the GOP.