It's All Politics
1:17 pm
Mon February 13, 2012

Pew Poll: Good News For Santorum, Better News For Obama

Originally published on Tue February 14, 2012 8:36 am

A new Pew Research Center poll reinforces the frustrating political reality for Mitt Romney that he's unable to convince some key conservative constituencies within the Republican Party that he's one of them.

Pew reports that Rick Santorum has practically tied Romney in its national survey completed Sunday because the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania is gaining the support of a significantly higher percentage of white evangelicals, Tea Party backers and conservatives compared with the former Massachusetts governor. (A Gallup tracking poll also showed Santorum and Romney essentially tied nationally.)

But the same Pew national poll also found President Obama with significant leads over Romney, Santorum and Newt Gingrich, in increasing order of the size of Obama's lead over each.

The poll found that 30 percent of respondents supported Santorum while 28 percent supported Romney. Only a month ago, Romney had a 17 percentage point lead over Santorum.

And in some fairly horrible news for Romney, he's not just having trouble persuading Republican voters he's conservative; the more he professes his conservatism, the less they apparently believe him. An excerpt from Pew:

"Three months ago, a slim majority (53 percent) of Republican and Republican-leaning voters said Mitt Romney was a strong conservative. Today, 42 percent see him this way, while the number who say he is not a strong conservative has jumped from 33 percent to 50 percent."

Of course, Santorum, Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul, and their surrogates and supporters have worked non-stop to raise doubts about Romney's record as Massachusetts governor and to highlight moderate comments he made as a Senate candidate in the early 1990s.

But his waning numbers could be because many Republicans just don't believe Romney when he says he's a conservative. That would be ironic since a large percentage of Republicans polled — 64 percent — gave Romney high marks for honesty and trustworthiness, a number that hadn't fallen since the last survey in November.

Another piece of bad news for Romney was his worsened position with independents. Obama now led among independents by nine points. In November, Romney led Obama by 12 points.

Meanwhile, Obama leads the three Republican presidential candidates Pew tested him against (what, no Ron Paul?) in head-to-head general-election match-ups.

Obama led Romney by eight points in the recent poll compared with a two-point lead in November. The president led Santorum by 10 points and Gingrich by 18 points.

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