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Romney holding lead over Santorum in Wisc. but Obama tops both

March 31, 2012|By Morgan Little
  • Republican Presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign stop at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin.
Republican Presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt… (Scott Olson / Getty Images )

Reporting from Washington — A new NBC News/Marist Poll places Mitt Romney comfortably ahead of Rick Santorum in Wisconsin just four days prior to the state’s Republican presidential primary.

The former Massachusetts governor leads with 40% of likely Republican voters, while Santorum sits at 33%. Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich have 11% and 8% of voters respectively, with 7% still undecided.

As has been the case throughout this year’s primary cycle, the splits between Romney and Santorum’s supporters are largely drawn across ideological lines. 43% of liberal or moderate voters back Romney, compared to 24% for Santorum, 42% of conservatives go for Romney to Santorum’s 33%. But among those who consider themselves to be very conservative, Santorum tops Romney 42% to 33%. Tea Party support also swings in Santorum’s favor, 40% to 32%.

Were the number of candidates the be winnowed to just Romney and Santorum, the results still work in Romney’s favor, with 46% of voters to Santorum’s 41%.

There is a ray of hope within the poll results  for Santorum though, as there’s still a possibility for a swing in support between now and Tuesday. 39% of voters are somewhat behind their candidate of choice and 13% said outright that they could end up voting differently.

In spite of the persistent press coverage and drama surrounding the 2012 Republican primary and the upcoming general election, voter enthusiasm is lukewarm in Wisconsin, and for independent voters, it’s downright tepid. Of registered voters, 37% are very enthusiastic about the election, a figure that increases to 42% for Democrats and 45% of Republicans. But for independents, just 29% are very enthusiastic, and 16% have no enthusiasm at all.

In fact, Republican voters are paying closer attention to Gov. Scott Walker’s recall election than the Republican primary, 51% to 37%.

It should be noted that President Obama, who carried Wisconsin by a 14 point margin in 2008, currently holds a majority of support over every Republican nominee. Against Santorum, Obama leads 51% to 38% and against Romney, Obama leads 52% to 35%, though in both cases at least 11% of voters are undecided.

For the full results of the poll, including further demographic splits of the electorate, click here.

morgan.little@latimes.com

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