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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The GOP needs to focus on who will sway the undecideds, not allow this melee of candidates who are climbing all over themselves to appeal to the extremist right-wing minority. Apathy is starting to set in, and November is coming up fast. Think of what is going to happen in the Congressional and Senate races if the GOP continues to flounder like this? Then where does power sit?
If you look at the pdf all the respondants are over 50. The GOP sure has that youth vote don't they. Couldn't find one person under 50 to answer their questions. HIllarious!
Why is CNN working so hard to force the length of this nomination process? Everytime a Romney challenger does something it's billed highly with a positive photo, but everytime Romney does something, they clip a poorly chosen photo of him with it. If Romney slips up at all, they bill it highly. Then with results like this, if Romney is in the lead by 4pts it's "all tied", but if Romney is behind by 1pt its [other guy] "on top"... CNN, are you hurting for money that bad that you want this to keep going? Romney is clearly the most apt Republican to win the presidency... enough with the bogus coverage of this race!
Santorum was sent by God himself to be our leader. You aetheists and devil-worshipers better just suck it up and accept it.
*** Obama is a radical environmentalist that puts trees and rocks ahead of human beings....
We have one planet.
Obama is trying to protect it.
Santorum wants to rape it for every dollar.
No thanks, i will stick with clean air and water.
What has Barack Obama done to move this country forward ? To make it a better place to work, to worship, to own your own business ? To own a home ? He makes you feel guilty if you are successful and he continues to drive this country further and further in debt. Why would anyone support Barack Obama, Why ?
I love how if Santorum is 4 points up on Romney in Michigan he's beating him, but he's four point behind Romney in Arizona its a "statistical tie". By the way this being covered its clear who the liberal media wants to face. The Republicans just might be stupid enough to grant them their wish by nominating Santorum. Lets face it a vote for Santorum is a vote for Obama.
I am seriously sick of everyone's opinions on Santorum.
Snore... Obama's mama must be so proud to know her boy is going to sit in the WH for another 4 years.. these two right wing religious nut cases are going to give away the election again. A Palin/Trump ticket is at least way more interesting...
Santorum, the Talibangelical Fascist H.omophobe is willing to throw the raw meat that the conservative psychos love to eat up, and Mitt isn't. This is very good news for Obama.
No mention of Ron Paul, at all. Wow. Media bias has been going on for quite sometime, but they're completely ignoring him, hir race, and his beliefs because they are big business interests at stake. It's sad.
Do they call the home they live in the Sanitorium?
The Republicans and tea baggers are more than welcome to commit political suicide by choosing Rick Santorum as their nominee to run against President Obama. The party of Abraham Lincoln is about to jump over the cliff. No tears will be shed.