National GOP: Romney 39%, Santorum 27%, Gingrich 17%, Paul 10%

Election 2012: Republican Presidential Primary

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Thursday, March 08, 2012

Mitt Romney still holds a double-digit lead over Rick Santorum among Republicans nationwide, although the gap between the two is slightly narrower following Super Tuesday’s mixed signals. But more GOP voters than ever now expect Romney to be the party’s nominee.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Republican Primary Voters shows Romney ahead of Santorum by 12 points – 39% to 27%. That’s a little tighter than it was a week ago when Romney led the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania by 16 – 40% to 24%. It was Romney’s biggest lead and the highest level of support earned by any GOP candidate in regular surveying of the race. But two weeks before that, Santorum was up by 12 points – 39% to 27%.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich remains in third place with 17% support despite his win Tuesday in his home state of Georgia, and Texas Congressman Ron Paul continues to run last with 10% of the vote. This marks little shift in their support from last week. Two percent (2%) like some other candidate in the race, and five percent (5%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

While some have suggested that if Gingrich gets out of the race Santorum will move into the lead, the numbers still don’t bear that out. In a one-on-one matchup. Romney leads Santorum 50% to 39%, virtually identical to last week’s findings. Two weeks earlier, Santorum led Romney 55% to 34%, the only time any challenger has led Romney nationally in a head-to-head matchup.

Eighty percent (80%) of likely GOP primary voters now expect Romney to be the eventual nominee, up from a previous high of 75% last week. Only 11% feel Santorum will win the nomination, essentially unchanged from the previous survey. Fifty-one percent (51%) think Romney would be the strongest candidate to run against President Obama, while 19% say the same of Santorum and 18% believe it to be true of Gingrich. This, too, is little changed from a week ago.

Most (53%) are now certain of how they will vote, but 41% say they still could change their minds.

The majority (56%) of Republican primary voters still think it is more important to choose a candidate who has the best chance of beating Obama. Thirty-seven percent (37%) prefer a candidate who does the best job representing Republican values. Romney leads Santorum 50% to 21% among those who put electability first. Among those who put the emphasis on GOP values, it’s Santorum 36%, Romney 24%, a shift from 33% to 28% a week ago.

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The national survey of 1,000 Likely Republican Primary Voters was conducted on March 7, 2012 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Romney’s now less popular among all voters nationwide than he was before the primary season began. Forty-three percent (43%) think it would be better for the GOP if a new candidate jumped in the race, but most Republicans don’t agree.

Seventy-three percent (73%) of likely Republican primary voters nationwide share a favorable opinion of Romney. Santorum is viewed favorably by 69%, Gingrich by 57% and Paul by 40%.

Romney and Paul remain the GOP candidates viewed as the least conservative. Santorum is seen as conservative by 88% of Republican voters, and 74% describe Gingrich that way. Romney and Paul are both viewed as conservative by 57%. Perhaps more tellingly, these findings include 52% who consider Santorum Very Conservative versus nine percent (9%) who say that of Romney.

But Santorum posts just a five-point lead over Romney among Very Conservative voters – 37% to 32%. Romney leads Santorum two-to-one (46% to 23%) among those who say they are Somewhat Conservative and is ahead 38% to 17% among non-conservatives.

The two front-runners are tied among Tea Party voters, with Romney earning 34% support and Santorum 33%. Non-members prefer Romney 41% to 24%.

Santorum leads by 10 among Evangelical Christian voters but trails Romney by wider margins among other Protestants, Catholics and Republicans of other faiths.

Ninety-two percent (92%) of GOP primary voters nationally think the country is heading down the wrong track, and only 11% at least somewhat approve of the job Obama is doing as president.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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Scott Rasmussen,
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To learn more about our methodology, click here.

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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