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Poll shows Romney losing ground to Santorum in Arizona

February 21, 2012|By Kim Geiger

Reporting from Washington — Rick Santorum is within striking distance of Mitt Romney in Arizona, a state that was considered reliable Romney territory just weeks ago, according to a new TIME/CNN poll.

Thirty-six percent of likely Republican voters back Romney while 32% support Santorum. The poll, which was conducted Sunday through Monday, has a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points, meaning the two candidates are in a statistical dead heat.

Newt Gingrich ranks third with 18% support, followed by Ron Paul with 6%.

It is the second poll this week to find Romney and Santorum running neck-and-neck in Arizona, with just one week before Arizona’s GOP presidential primary. Previous polls showed Romney with double-digit leads over his competitors in the state, where he placed second behind John McCain in 2008.

Not surprisingly, social conservatives have been key to Santorum’s surge.

He leads Romney 37% to 28% among "born-again" Christians. And the candidates are tied among voters who described themselves as conservatives, as “blue-collar” voters and as supporters of the tea party movement, according to a Time analysis of the poll results.

Romney, however, enjoys substantial leads among voters who make less than $50,000/year, “white-collar Republicans, college graduates and voters who are not tea party supporters.

kim.geiger@latimes.com

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