Poll: Romney strong in Colo., but Santorum leads in Minnesota

ADVERTISEMENT
"Seventy-two hours from now he may have supplanted Gingrich as the top alternative to Romney. Santorum's personal likability — perhaps driven by the fact that no one has felt the need to attack him — has a lot to do with why he's doing so well in these states," the polling firm said in a statement.

Still, Santorum's chances of victory must still be considered a long shot, especially against Romney's well-oiled — and well-funded — campaign operation. Coupled with the momentum from his Florida and Nevada wins, a loss in either Missouri or Minnesota would be an upset.

Romney is also expected to perform well in Colorado, where PPP found him with a 40 percent to 26 percent edge over Santorum. Gingrich trails with just 18 percent, while Ron Paul rounds out the pack with 12 percent.

Gingrich failed to qualify for the Missouri ballot, and if Santorum's leads in Minnesota and Colorado hold, it could become increasingly difficult for the former House Speaker to position himself as the candidate around whom conservatives should coalesce. A surprise win for Santorum in any of the states could also help attract the fundraising dollars his campaign desperately needs to stay relevant in the contest.

More than a third of voters in both Colorado and Minnesota are unsure whom they will vote for, providing some volatility in the race for the first time since South Carolina.

“Tuesday has the potential to be a huge day for both Romney and Santorum,” said Dean Debnam, president of PPP, in a statement. “A sweep for Romney would do much to enhance the feeling that he's unstoppable. Wins for Santorum in Minnesota and Missouri would make it clear he's a more viable alternative to Romney than Gingrich and give him a lot of momentum for the road ahead. And it looks like it will be another dark day for Gingrich, whose campaign it appears peaked two weeks ago in South Carolina.”

More in Blog Briefing Room

Poll: Strong majority backs Obama on Cuba

Read more »