A Loss in Michigan would be a stake in the heart of Romney. And a lot of Republicans think it is time for GIngrich to hang it up. If he did, Santorum would be up big.
The Republican race for President in Michigan has tightened considerably over the last week, with what was a 15 point lead for Rick Santorum down to 4. He leads with 37% to 33% for Mitt Romney, 15% for Ron Paul, and 10% for Newt Gingrich.
The tightening over the last week is much more a function of Romney gaining than Santorum falling. Santorum’s favorability spread of 67/23 has seen no change since our last poll, and his share of the vote has dropped only 2 points from 39% to 37%. Romney meanwhile has seen his net favorability improve 10 points from +10 (49/39) to +20 (55/35) and his vote share go from 24% to 33%.
What we’re seeing in Michigan is a very different story from Florida where Romney surged by effectively destroying his opponent’s image- here Romney’s gains have more to do with building himself up.
Groups Santorum has double digit leads with include Protestants (up 47-30), union members (up 43-23), Evangelicals (up 51-24), Tea Partiers (up 55-20), ‘very conservative’ voters (up 54-23), and men (up 40-28).
Romney is leading the field with women (38-34), seniors (42-34), moderates (35-24), ‘somewhat conservative’ voters (40-34), and Catholics (43-31).
Newt Gingrich’s continued presence in the race is helping Romney a lot. If he dropped 45% of his supporters would go to Santorum, compared to only 29% for Romney and it would push Santorum’s lead over Romney up to 42-33. 47% of primary voters think Gingrich should drop out while only 40% believe he should continue on, but he’s certainly not showing any indication he’ll leave.
Santorum’s advantage over Romney seems to be a reflection of voters being more comfortable with where he is ideologically. 48% of voters think Santorum has more similar beliefs to them, compared to only 32% who pick Romney on that question. 63% of primary voters think Santorum’s views are ‘about right’ compared to only 42% who say that for Romney. 37% believe that Romney is ‘too liberal.’
I agree with Politico that this poll is much more in line with other polling in the state and so is not really indicative of falling Santorum support. It is a tight race and Santorum has the opportunity to really stagger Romney and maybe even knock him down. And yes, I wish Gingrich would just get out already as I believe he has had his last surge.
If Santorum knocks Romney down in Michigan, he might not get back up again.