Poll: Romney Gaining on Santorum in Michigan

Poll: Romney Gaining on Santorum in Michigan

By Caitlin Huey-Burns - February 20, 2012

A new poll out Monday shows Mitt Romney gaining on Rick Santorum in Michigan.

Santorum leads Romney, 37 percent to 33 percent, according to a Public Policy Polling (D) survey. Ron Paul attracts 15 percent while Newt Gingrich garners 10 percent. Last week, PPP found Santorum leading the field by 15 points. The former Pennsylvania senator has only dropped two points since then, while Romney has picked up nine points.

Romney edges Santorum among women (38 percent to 34 percent) while Santorum holds a strong lead among men (40 percent to 28 percent). Santorum leads by double digits among the most conservative voters, 54 percent to 23 percent. Romney wins over those who consider themselves somewhat conservative, 40 percent to 34 percent. The former Massachusetts governor also leads among moderates, with 35 percent of the support. Santorum and Paul tie with 24 percent.

Santorum holds a strong lead among union members, 43 percent to 23 percent. Those who don't belong to a union are split between Romney and Santorum, 36 percent to 35 percent.

Romney wins over seniors, 42 percent to 34 percent, while Santorum sweeps the remaining age groups by four points.

The race, though, is somewhat fluid. While the majority of participants, 64 percent, say they are strongly committed to their first-choice candidate, 36 percent say they could change their minds before Election Day. Voters will go to the polls on Feb. 28.

Romney's rise may be fueled by a 10-point improvement in his favorability score: 55 percent of voters have a positive view of him while 35 percent hold an unfavorable one. Santorum, though, earns a higher net rating: 67 percent view him favorably while 23 percent have a negative view of him.

Romney has been campaigning in Michigan as a native son: He was born in Detroit, and his father served as the state's governor and was CEO of American Motors Corp. In a television ad running throughout the state, Romney highlights these connections and says, "Michigan's been my home, and this is personal." He won the 2008 primaries there with similar rhetoric. But the home state connections don't appear to be resonating with voters: 62 percent do not consider Romney to be a Michigander, while 29 percent do.

In 2008, Romney penned an op-ed in the New York Times opposing the Obama administration bailout of Detroit automakers Chrysler and General Motors. He has taken heat for this opposition -- he had encouraged a "managed bankruptcy" -- but it doesn't seem to bother voters in this poll: 34 percent say a candidate's opposition to the bailouts makes them more likely to vote for him; 35 percent say it wouldn't make a difference; and 27 percent say it would make them less likely to vote for that candidate.

PPP (D) surveyed 602 Republican primary voters from Feb. 17-19. The margin of error is plus or minus four percentage points. 

Caitlin Huey-Burns is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @CHueyBurnsRCP.

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