Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsMitt Romney

Polls: Romney leads in Arizona, tied with Santorum in Michigan

February 22, 2012|By Kim Geiger
(Scott Olson / Getty Images )

Reporting from Washington — Mitt Romney has regained the lead in Arizona but is locked in a tie with rival Rick Santorum as primary day looms less than a week away, according to a pair of new polls released Wednesday.

The polls suggest Romney’s message is resonating with more pragmatic voters who are focused on finding a candidate who can beat President Obama in a general election.  

An NBC/Marist poll of likely Republican primary voters in Arizona shows Romney leading the pack with 43%, a 16 percentage point lead over Santorum, who has 27%.  Newt Gingrich ranks third with 16%, followed by Ron Paul with 11%.

The race appears to be tighter in Michigan, according to an NBC/Marist poll of likely Republican primary voters there.  Romney, with 37%, and Santorum, with 35%, are essentially tied in Michigan, the state where Romney was born and where his father, George Romney, served as governor in the 1960s.

In both states, Romney holds solid leads among voters who have already cast their ballots.  He also leads among those who are not supporters of the "tea party" movement.

The Arizona poll suggests that electability has been a key factor for voters there. Sixty-three percent say it’s more important to choose a candidate who can beat President Obama in a general election, while 29% say they prefer to choose a candidate who is a true conservative.  Fifty-seven percent view Romney as the most electable candidate in the race, compared with 17% for Santorum.  

In Michigan, a slightly smaller portion – 51% -- view Romney as the most electable candidate, while 24% say Santorum is most electable. But voters there appear less focused on finding a suitable competitor to go against Obama. Asked which is more important, choosing a candidate who can beat Obama or choosing a candidate who is a true conservative, 52% said electability was more important and 39% said they prefer to choose a true conservative.

That may explain why Santorum is faring better in Michigan. Tea party supporters, evangelical Christians and voters who identify themselves as very conservative all favor Santorum over Romney.  In Arizona, Santorum’s lead among those groups is not as pronounced.

The candidates will meet Wednesday night in Mesa, Ariz., for the first GOP presidential debate in nearly a month, and the last debate before voters in Arizona and Michigan go to the polls Tuesday.

kim.geiger@latimes.com

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|