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Romney barely tops Santorum in Az primary poll

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Arizona's presidential primary race is close, with Mitt Romney having a slight lead over Rick Santorum, 36-33 percent. Newt Gingrich is third with 16 percent of GOP primary voters, and Ron Paul trails at 9 percent, a new poll shows.

"Santorum is better liked by Arizona Republicans than Romney, but the gap isn't as wide as we're finding in a lot of other states.," said pollster Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling.

Santorum's favorability edge is +34 (61 percent hold a favorable view, while 27 percent view him unfavorably), while Romney's at +24 (58/34), Jensen said in a news release.

The survey by the Democratic polling firm was performed Feb. 17 and 19, and has a 4.8 percent margin of error.

From the PPP release:

One thing to keep an eye on over the next week is whether Newt Gingrich can hold his support. 16 percent is pretty good for him compared to what we're finding other places right now, but only 46 percent of his voters say they're solidly committed to him. 40% of his supporters say that Santorum is their second choice, compared to only 25 percent for Romney. If Gingrich's supporters see he's not viable and decide to jump ship the race could get even closer.

Santorum and Romney are both generally winning the same groups we find them winning in Michigan and nationally right now. The reason Romney's leading in Arizona but trailing in those other places is that he's at least staying competitive with the groups he tends to be weaker with. For instance he's only down by 11 points with Tea Party voters, 43-32. He's only down 13 with those describing themselves as 'very conservative,' 44-31. And he's down just 18 with evangelicals, 45-27. Those are all groups he's losing by more than 25 points in Michigan right now.

Romney's up by good sized margins in Arizona with seniors (41-32), Hispanics (41-30), women (39-31), "somewhat conservative" voters (43-29), and moderates (39-22).  It's kind of a given at this point that Romney will take moderates and Santorum "very conservative" voters. The "somewhat conservative" ones are really the swing voters of the GOP electorate and they're leaning towards Romney in both Arizona and Michigan right now.

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While current endorsements by the likes of U.S. Sen. John McCain haven't played a big role in GOP voters' choices, other potential nods may, Jensen said:

John McCain's endorsement isn't doing Romney a whole lot of good in Arizona. Only 15 percent of voters say they're more likely to vote for a McCain endorsed candidate, compared to 30 percent who consider it a negative, and 53 percent who say it doesn't make a difference either way.

There are two endorsements that could have a bigger impact in the final week of the campaign. 32 percent of voters would be more likely to support a Joe Arpaio endorsed candidate, compared to 24 percent who would be less likely to. And 25 percent would be more likely to support a Jan Brewer endorsed candidate, compared to 21 percent who would be less likely to. If Romney or Santorum could nab either of those endorsements it would be a boost.

The Republican candidates are set to debate Wednesday in Mesa, and many voters are keeping open minds about who their ballot will be cast:

Like in Michigan this is still an extremely volatile race, with 44 percent of voters open to changing their minds between now and the election. GOP voters if anything are becoming even more indecisive as this contest wears on. Romney's supporters are a little more committed with 60% saying they'll definitely vote for him compared to 56 percent of Santorum's voters who say that.

The Republican Senate race in Arizona doesn't look like it will be much of a race. Jeff Flake's at 56 percent to 7 percent for Wil Cardon, 5 percent for Bryan Hackbarth, 1 percent each for Douglas McKee and Clair Van Steenwyk, and 0 percent for John Lyon.

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Latest comments on this storyRead all 8 »

8
3 comments
Feb 21, 2012, 9:55 pm
-1 +1

Reasons not to vote for Santorum…...He wants to regulate the internet…agrees with SOPA concept…while a senator he voted to stop people from ordering cheaper prescription medicines online…so he could keep the big drug companies happy….He swears he’s for tort reform but while a senator He and His wife Sued a DR. For $ 300,000… While the american economy was tanking He voted to raise his own Salary….I could go on and on but ..heres the truth..Santorum is a phony…and it’s there for anyone who really wants to see. I can’t believe the foolishness of some of My fellow Republicans…Cant they see how the media has embraced Santorum and tried to discredit Romneys conservative record….If some in the Rep party don’t see the light we could lose in Nov to Obama…MITT ROMNEY can beat Obama…..Santorum Can’t…..l’m asking my fellow Republicans Please….Don’t hand the election to Obama….Vote Romney.

7
2 comments
Feb 20, 2012, 4:24 pm
-9 +19

Typical Far Right Comment.You missed the point. Saint Santorum DID NOT VOTE CONSERVATIVE many, many times. He voted to do what was best for his own hide.You would know this if you bothered to check out his voting record instead of being snotty on the keyboard. Romney did VERY Conservative things in a mostly LIBERAL State. No COMPARISON. The debate is now on SOCIAL ISSUES instead of OBAMA so thanks FAR RIGHTERS. Keep it up and you’re to blame for Obama’s re-election.

6
11 comments
Feb 20, 2012, 4:18 pm
-1 +9

In what universe can Louis Farrakhan possibly be considered influential?

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Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Romney speaks at a Mesa rally, Feb. 13.

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