Poll: Santorum gaining on Romney in Arizona

Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are in a statistical tie in Arizona, according to the latest survey from Public Policy Polling.

Romney leads with 36 percent support to 33 percent for Santorum; the poll has a 4.8 percent margin of error. Newt Gingrich came in at 16 percent, followed by Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) at 9 percent.

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In a survey last week from conservative polling firm Rasmussen, Romney led Santorum by eight points in Arizona.

Voters head to the polls on Feb. 28 for the primary, and there will be a debate — possibly the last of the primary season — in Mesa on Wednesday.

As attention has turned to Santorum’s rising campaign following his surprising three-state sweep in Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri earlier this month, it could be the backers of now-second-tier candidate Gingrich who help determine the outcome in Arizona.


Fifty-four percent of Gingrich’s supporters in Arizona say they might change their minds before the election. Of those, 40 percent identified Santorum as their second choice, compared to only 25 percent who named Romney.

In February, the GOP primary seemed to become a two-man race between Romney and Santorum — if Gingrich’s supporters begin to view Santorum as a more viable alternative to Romney, it could help swing the balance into Santorum’s favor.

Michigan is the other state that will hold its primary on Feb. 28, and that race is just as close.

A Public Policy Polling survey released on Monday shows Santorum with a slight four-point edge over Romney — down from the 15 percent lead he had last week.

Romney has strong personal ties to Michigan and was at one point expected to cruise to victory there.

The PPP survey found that just as in Arizona, Romney’s prospects in Michigan are bolstered by the presence of Gingrich, whose backers remain uncommitted and who favor Santorum over Romney as their second choice.

The PPP Arizona poll was conducted from Feb. 17 to Feb. 19.

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