Santorum up by 4 in MI in ARG poll, rising among women nationally in WaPo/ABC; Update: Rasmussen shows Romney up by 6 in MI

So far, this looks like a good morning for Rick Santorum.  A new poll in Michigan shows him clinging to a narrow four-point lead over native son Mitt Romney, he’s made the ballot in Indiana after a recount, and women are flocking to his side even after a week of the media hype over contraception.  Let’s start with the recount:

The original tally showed he fell eight signatures short in the 7th Congressional District, which is entirely in Marion County. Candidates must collect the signatures of 500 registered voters in each of the nine congressional districts to be on the ballot.

Santorum’s campaign said it thought he had turned in hundreds more than necessary, including in the 7th District.

On Thursday — one day before the Indiana Election Commission was to weigh challenges to ballot access by Santorum and other candidates — the Marion County Board of Voter Registration said Santorum had more than enough signatures for inclusion on the ballot.

“I am very pleased and happy for all citizens of the state of Indiana, many of whom would like to have the chance to vote for Rick Santorum for president,” said state Sen. Mike Delph, a Carmel Republican who is supporting Santorum’s bid for the White House.

Santorum had already failed to qualify in Virginia (along with Newt Gingrich) and didn’t get a full slate of delegates in time for Tennessee’s primary, either.  Both of those happened while Santorum was operating on a shoestring and languishing in the second tier, though, and he mostly got a pass for managing scarce resources.  A failure in Indiana would have been more problematic with the national spotlight on his campaign, likely fueling doubts about his readiness to compete at the highest level.

That may help boost his chances in the Rust Belt state going to the polls on Tuesday, and ARG shows him keeping just ahead of Romney:

Rick Santorum continues to lead the Michigan Republican presidential primary. Santorum leads with 38% and is followed by Mitt Romney with 34%, Ron Paul with 12%, and Newt Gingrich with 7%.

Santorum has gained 1 percentage point since a similar survey conducted February 15-16, 2012, Romney has gained 2 percentage points, and Gingrich has lost 3 percentage points since the last survey.

Santorum leads Romney 40% to 36% among self-identified Republicans, followed by Gingrich and Paul with 7% each. Among self-identified independents and Democrats, Santorum leads with 33%, followed by Romney with 31%, Paul with 21%, and Gingrich with 6%.

Santorum leads Romney 38% to 34% among likely Republican primary voters saying they will definitely vote in the February 28 primary, followed by Paul with 13% and Gingrich with 6%. Romney leads Santorum 36% to 35% among those saying they will probably vote, followed by Gingrich with 10% and Paul with 6%.

Romney leads among women, but only by three points.  Santorum has wiped out the gender gap between the two over the course of the month, and not just in Michigan, the Washington Post reports from its own polling:

Over the past several weeks, Republicans have watched squeamishly as presidential contender Rick Santorum has waded into multiple controversies that risk alienating half the 2012 electorate: women.

But in fact, Santorum has grown more popular among women while talking about his opposition to abortion, his disapproval of birth control and his view that the federal government shouldn’t pay for prenatal screenings. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows not only that Santorum is doing better among GOP women than he was a few weeks ago, but also that he is less unpopular — and also less well known — among Democratic and independent women than his Republican rivals Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. …

The Post-ABC poll, conducted on the heels of a week of scrutiny of Santorum’s conservative views on a variety of women’s health issues, shows that his popularity among GOP women has moved up 13 points since January, with the biggest bump in the past week, so that 57 percent hold a favorable view. Santorum is now within reach of Romney on that score: Sixty-one percent of Republican women view Romney favorably. Romney has higher negative ratings among GOP women than Santorum does — 28 percent to 18 percent — and those negative ratings of Romney have grown over time.

The usual caveats for WaPo/ABC polling apply.  They do not supply the demographic composition of their sampling any longer with their polls, and in this case they don’t even bother to publish the actual numbers for favorability breakouts on gender — the very subject of their story.  Since the poll was taken from February 15-19, the data shouldn’t be all that precious to keep hiding it on February 24th.  Nevertheless, the polling dates coincide with heavy media criticism of the Republican challenge to the HHS mandate that tells religious organizations to give employees free contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients whether their doctrine forbids it or not.

The fact that favorability among women improved in this period for Santorum, who had been the most vocal about the need to protect religious liberty in the face of the mandate, shows two things.  First, the media narrative doesn’t seem to be working very well.  Second, Obama may have badly miscalculated how well this would split women from the GOP.  Both of those aren’t just good news for Santorum, but for all Republicans.

Update: Good news for Santorum … followed by bad news:

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Republican Primary Voters in Michigan shows Romney with 40% of the vote and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum with 34%. The poll was conducted on Thursday night, following the last scheduled debate among the GOP candidates.

Earlier this week, Santorum posted a 38% to 34% lead over the former Massachusetts governor in Michigan. A week before that, it was Santorum 35%, Romney 32%.  Three weeks earlier, shortly after Romney’s big Florida Primary win, he led Santorum 38% to 17%.

Santorum still ekes out a win, however, if the Michigan race were a one-on-one contest, leading Romney 46% to 44%. But he held a 12-point lead in a two-man race a week ago.

Interestingly, Santorum still does better with women than men against Romney, but trails among both, 32/40 and 36/40, respectively.  This poll was conducted yesterday, the first (of which I’m aware) since the debate.  Romney now wins Republicans (42/36) and independents (36/29).  Santorum gets a majority of “very conservative” voters, but Romney gets a near-majority of “somewhat conservative” and moderates.  Romney now also wins Protestant and Catholic demos, the latter by a surprising eight-point margin, while Santorum has a fourteen-point edge among evangelicals.  Romney wins all age demos and most income demos except the middle-class $40K-60K and $60K-75K demos, which Santorum barely wins.

I’d consider this bad news, and perhaps a harbinger of how the Wednesday debate will impact Santorum over the next few days.  Watch the polling over the weekend to see if this trend bears out in multi-day surveys, which will tell the tale of whether the impact will be momentary or lasting.

About Albert N. Milliron 6987 Articles

Albert Milliron is the founder of Politisite. Milliron has been credentialed by most major news networks for Presidential debates and major Political Parties for political event coverage. Albert maintains relationships with the White House and State Department to provide direct reporting from the Administration’s Press team. Albert is the former Public Relations Chairman of the Columbia County Republican Party in Georgia. He is a former Delegate.

Milliron is a veteran of the US Army Medical Department and worked for Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Psychiatry.

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