(CNN) - Strong support by Catholic voters in Ohio appears to be one reason why Mitt Romney is now deadlocked with Rick Santorum, according to a new survey released one day before the state holds its Super Tuesday Republican presidential primary.
A CNN/ORC International poll released Monday indicates that it's a dead heat between Romney and Santorum, with both the former Massachusetts governor and the former senator from Pennsylvania each grabbing 32% of likely GOP primary voters in Ohio. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is at 14%, with Rep. Ron Paul of Texas at 11%.
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"The surprise is that the Catholic candidate, Santorum, is losing the Catholic vote," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Among Ohio Catholics who are likely to vote on Super Tuesday, 39% back Romney compared to 33% who support Santorum. Santorum has an advantage among Protestants by a 35%-to-29% margin."
Romney's advantage among Catholics is within the sampling error. Last week exit polls in neighboring Michigan indicated Romney had an advantage with Catholic voters in that state as well. Both Michigan and Ohio have sizeable Catholic populations.
The CNN/ORC survey is the fifth released over the past day and a half to indicate that it's all tied up in Ohio. Surveys released a week ago suggested that Santorum led Romney, but they were conducted before Romney's large victory last Tuesday in Arizona and his edging out of Santorum to win his native Michigan.
"Ohio is yet another state in which Republican primary voters are split ideologically," says Holland. Romney has an 18-point advantage among moderates, while Santorum is up by eight among conservatives."
Sixty-three delegates are up for grabs Tuesday in Ohio, one of 10 states to hold contests on Super Tuesday. Although more delegates are at stake in Georgia, Ohio is arguably the most crucial of the states holding a Super Tuesday contest because of its status as a major general election battleground, and both Romney and Santorum have campaigned hard to take the state.
But Georgia is crucial for Gingrich, who's said repeatedly over the past week that he needs to win the state. Gingrich represented Georgia's sixth congressional district for two decades.
The poll indicates Gingrich is enjoying home field advantage, with a 23 point lead over Romney in the state. Gingrich is at 47% among likely GOP primary voters, with Romney at 24%, Santorum at 15% and Paul at 9%. Other recent surveys in Georgia also indicated Gingrich with a double digit lead.
Two-thirds of people questioned in Georgia said they were definitely backing the candidate they are currently supporting, with three in ten saying they may change their minds, and 5% unsure or not supporting a candidate.
In Ohio, 53% said they were committed to the candidate they are currently backing, with 37% saying they could change their minds, with one in ten either unsure or not backing a candidate.
Besides being a crucial primary state, Ohio is also an extremely important battleground state in the general election. According to the poll, 49% of Ohio registered voters would back President Barack Obama in November, with 45% supporting an unnamed Republican nominee.
In Georgia, which has been a reliable Republican state in presidential contests, the poll indicates Obama deadlocked at 48% against the eventual GOP nominee.
The CNN poll in Ohio was conducted by ORC International, with 1,825 registered voters, including 546 registered voters likely to cast ballots in the Ohio GOP primary, questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error for registered voters is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, with a sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points for questions only of likely Republican primary voters.
The CNN poll in Georgia was conducted by ORC International, with 1,775 registered voters, including 527 registered voters likely to cast ballots in the Georgia GOP primary, questioned by telephone.
The survey's sampling error for registered voters is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, with a sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points for questions only of likely Republican primary voters.
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I don't care how much good news, or religious groups support Romney, he is a backstabbing pig. He backstabbed the people who lost jobs via Bain Capital. His running for president is an ego trip and nothing less. Romney couldn't handle an international or domestic crisis if his life depended on it. Since our lives will depend on it, let's give Obama another 4 years with a congress he can work with–focus your anger on the branch of government that has the lowest approval rating - Congress.
Obama 2.0, 2012.
Gee, who said that losing the Catholic vote wasn't going to hurt Obama? Oops.
Which candidate has the Jewish vote? You know...the faith that begat the Savior that they both claim to follow?
Mitt has as much chance to win in Nov as there would be a black man apointed to br a Mormon Elder
The Catholics would rather elect a Mormon as Pope than see Santorum become Ayatolah.
Santorum is WAY too radical for most Catholics I know. They are not interested in having a Catholic president since that has nothing to do with increasing their standard of living or what is happening in their daily lives.
Ironic as Santorum is the Catholic but I am happy for Romney.
@Derrique – you may not have realized this but Obama isn't running in the Republican primaries. how obama scores with the catholic vote vs. the GOP won't be known until November
Obama did go too far and insult Catholics. Now he's going to pay the price. He should have listened to his advisors.
Doesn't surprise me. Santorum is more conservative on almost every issue than the pope, who is regarded as a hard liner. The Vatican accepts evolution as fact, for example, is against the death sentence and for social justice and compassion for illegal immigrants.
Now look at the Catholic electorate. 95% of Catholic women took contraceptives at some point in their life.
Santorum really is a Catholic in Name only, he fits more with radical Evangelicals like the Westboro Church.
This catholic will never vote for Romney. I'll vote for Obama over him. Sorry but what I've read about mormonism is hilarious. Don't you know Joseph Smith was told by god where to find the Book of Mormon in 1833 in Missouri. Umm would you like some cheese with your cult.
Interesting that Catholics are backing Romney rather than Santorum or Gingrich (both Catholics).... guess they see through the extreme social views and the extreme personality...
I don't care they all going to loose. without Woman vote you can not win.
Because some Catholics happen to be women.
When Mitt Romney gets serious consideration in the US, it's time to move to Canada
I came into this year thinking that there was NO WAY that President Obama was going to get re-elected... Until I saw the republican canidates... Romney seems like an elite used-car salesman, Gingritch seems like an egomaniac, and Santorum is a bit too far-right. I'm Catholic, I'm not much of an Obama fan, but I rather liked H. Cain before he ragequit his campaign.
Catholics don't like Catholic policies. We don't live on a flat earth and also don't need a civilization run by Religious law.
Follow the money.
Obama has not lost the catholic vote! A few crazes may vote for Romney but they are one issue voters and that is never going to change.
I hope Mitt is elected, because he doesn't believe in the bible.
Hill you vote for a man just because he has the most money? Or because the media tells you to.
How can anyone vote for a man who has not clearly won anything in this election? He has outspent at least by four times as others in each appearance. In others he has spent over 200 million dollars to trash Newt Gingrich and to date over 400 million dollars in lying attack ads.
Romney is good at tearing down others, he just cannot build his own house. A vote for Romney is to vote for Obama or Obama lite.
The choices are Williard Romey or Santorum( a total right wing nut job). PATHETIC. By the way Santorum is no President Obama.
Ron Paul is the only candidate that represents real change. Romney is a whiter, richer version of Obama. You are fooling yourself if you think otherwise.
It's so sweet to know that Rick Santorum is so religiously extreme that even his fellow Catholics are turning away from him. It's precisely what he deserves.
Go ahead, vote for a man who hids his money in a foriegn bank, yet claims to love America. Go ahead and vote for a man who kills jobs here in America, yet claims he loves this country and wants to restore Jobs. Go ahead America, This RMONEY Man in office who religion did not recognize Blacks as a People. Go ahead America, vote for a guy who tell you one thing today, then says and does another tomorrow, or better yet, later that day. Goahead America, vote ina guy who's JOB CREATION RECORD was 47th of 50. As Americans we are do DUMB with such short term memory.. These are the reasons why America is going down the tubes. The 1%ers really know how to package themselves and have you got against your best interest. Bummies...