(CNN) - A large gender gap appears to be developing between supporters of GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, as well as a split between white collar and blue collar Republicans, according to a new national survey.
A CNN/ORC International poll also indicates that Santorum supporters are much more highly motivated than those backing Romney.
See full results (pdf)
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"The new numbers indicate a split in the Republican party that goes deeper than ideology, with signs of a gender gap and class warfare breaking out in the GOP ranks," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
According to the survey, released Tuesday afternoon, Santorum and Romney are basically all tied up for the lead in the race for the GOP nomination. Thirty four percent of Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP say they back Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania, with 32% backing Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who has been at or near the top of national polling over the past year. Santorum's two point margin over Romney is well within the survey's sampling error.
The poll indicates that Rep. Ron Paul of Texas is at 16%, with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 15%. Four other surveys released over the past day also suggest the race for the nomination knotted up between Romney and Santorum. All of the polls, including the CNN survey, 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 his surge in national and state polling, and cemented the perception that Romney was having a hard time locking down support of core conservatives.
Santorum's newfound support may be coming from Republicans who backed candidates who are no longer in the race, like Texas Gov. Rick Perry. But the poll also indicates that Santorum's surge is also the product of a notable gender gap, with Santorum holding a 10-point edge among Republican men and Romney winning Republican women by nine points. And Republicans who describe themselves as blue collar are backing Santorum by 11 points over Romney. But among those who say they come from white collar families, Romney has a 10-point advantage.
The poll also indicates Santorum topping Romney 45% to 29% among self-described tea party movement supporters, with Romney edging out Santorum 34% to 29% among people who don't describe themselves as tea party supporters.
It's a similar story when it comes to self described born-again voters, with Santorum leading that group by a 42% to 24% margin over Romney, and Romney beating Santorum 40% to 26% who don't describe themselves as born-again.
"According to the survey, Santorum Republicans are also much more highly motivated than Romney Republicans, with more than half of Santorum's voters saying they strongly support him, compared to less than four in ten Romney voters - and enthusiasm for Santorum as the eventual nominee is highest among the four remaining challengers," adds Holland.
Nonetheless, an overwhelming number of Republicans see Romney as most likely to win the GOP nomination, and a majority continues to believe that Romney has the best chance of defeating President Barack Obama in the November general election.
Are Republicans happy with the remaining choices in the field? The poll indicates the answer is yes, but satisfaction with current candidates has slipped 11 points since the fall. And the eventual winner may receive a less-than-enthusiastic response from the GOP rank and file. Only a third say they would be enthusiastic about a Santorum victory, and that puts him at the top of the field. Only one in five say they would be enthusiastic if Romney were the nominee.
The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International from February 10-13, with 478 Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.
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Oh goodness, I hope Santorum wins. I don't like Rommy cause he has book lernin and uses big words
When Obama seems like the best choice, the pickings are very poor.
Anbody Santorum talking about women in the military on CNN? He said women shouldn't be allowed near combat areas because female would be weighed down by emotions and other "female issues". Where did this guy go to school (or was he home-schooled like he's forcing his kids to be while the taxpayers paid for a private education)? Santorum thinks women are nothing unless they're waiting at home for their husband with slippers and a martini ready. I guess he saw too much "Leave it to Beaver" as a kid.
If Santorum wins the republican nomination it will be a gift handed down from God to the democrats.
I suspect Santorum's supporters will be the most vocal and appear to be quite dedicated. They represent the radical fringe of the Republican Party comfortable with a President who welcomes the vision of a Christian theocracy. These same foks are okay with Santorum's desire to take military action against Iran – a "chickenhawk" who never served but is willing to let the children of other people go to war. His crowd will be loud enough to be heard and radical enough to be rejected by the majority of thinking Americans.
Here is The Plan:
Puff pieces galore on Romney. WE have to have him win their nomination, THEN hammer him.
Keep N U K E Ginrich and Rick Sanitarium fighting and splitting the conservative vote.
Keep our favorite Crazy Uncle looking legitimate.
Keep all the focus on their candidate, and off that clueless boob Obama.
Why, why, why would any modern, educated citizen vote for Santorum ???
Ron Paul is the only honest and knowledgeable candidate.
Yes!!!! Go Santorum!!!! It will mean Obama locked in the elections before they even get started!
The former Sen. Rick Tornscrotum couldn't win re-election in PA and now he fancies himself as the next POTUS? Yeah, right. He'd better believe in the power of prayer.
Hasn't every candidate been ahead/tied with Romney at some point in this race?
Disband the GOP. It is a party of circus clowns. If not, just flush it down the toilet.
I can see Santorum as a come from behind victory kinda guy over Romney.
Is this the best the Republicans have to offer? John McCain was a better choice last election and I think he was a sacrifice by Republican's who knew they were beaten early.
I hope Santorum wins the primary. It means Obama will win the 2012 election that much easier.
Santorum will go down and Romney will win. Santorum is an unknown idealist with little or no experience who has backed Democrats in the past – sound a bit like someone currently occupying the White House? Just Google "Santorum" – that says it all.
No surprise that Romney is winning the women vote; Santorum wants to take women back to the caveman era.
Republican party, you guys make me so happy!
What an awful choice. A fanatic who wants to force his extreme ideas on everyone, or an empty chameleon who has no ideas and tells each audience what he thinks they want to hear. This is the best the GOP can do?
Rick Santorum reminds me of John Edwards. I cannot get over Mitt "The Ripper" Romney from Colbert Super PAC ad. It's funny yet so true!
With all the negative ads, it looks more like classless warfare to me. Or, maybe guerrilla warfare.
i keep hearing this comparison between the republican nomination of 2012 to the democratic nomination of 2008... believe what you will but Mitt Romney (flip flop) and Rick Santorum (buttjuice man) do not compare to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. I do hope Rick Santorum wins the republican nomination... an Obama landslide would be great.
B. Obama 2012 – H. Clinton 2016 – H. Clinton 2020 – M. Obama 2024 – M. Obama 2028
Anyone with book lernin wouldn't vote for a Republican regardless.
Race to the bottom. Both candidates are stumbling over themselves to tout who can take away our civil liberties more. I'll stay with Obama.