Romney Leads Santorum in New Illinois Polls

Romney Leads Santorum in New Illinois Polls

By Caitlin Huey-Burns - March 16, 2012

Two new polls show the Illinois primary is Mitt Romney's to lose on Tuesday. He leads Rick Santorum, 41 percent to 32 percent, according to a Rasmussen Reports poll of likely Republican primary voters. It apparently will be a two-man race in the state, as Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul lag far behind the front-runner with 14 percent and 7 percent, respectively.

Nonetheless, 32 percent of those surveyed say they could change their minds by Tuesday, signaling a somewhat fluid contest.

Romney leads Santorum by nine points among men and eight points among women. The former Massachusetts governor leads across all age groups, but takes seniors by double digits. Santorum leads by eight points among the most conservative voters, while Romney leads by 20 points among those who identity as somewhat conservative.

Sixty-eight percent view Romney favorably while 30 percent have a negative opinion of him. Santorum's favorability rating is virtually the same. Gingrich gets a positive net of 8 percent while Paul receives a negative net of 23 percent.

Romney released a television ad Friday in Illinois attacking Santorum as "The Wrong Choice." And a super PAC supporting Santorum has taken to the airwaves with a reported $310,000 ad buy, going after Romney for signing Massachusetts' health care law.

Meanwhile, a Fox Chicago News poll finds a closer race, with Romney leading the former Pennsylvania senator, 37 percent to 31 percent. Gingrich attracted 14 percent while Paul took 8 percent. Ten percent remain undecided.

The survey found the candidates running virtually even among men and women. Notably, 47 percent say they are dissatisfied with their choices for the GOP nomination, while 43 percent are content with the field.

Rasmussen surveyed 750 likely GOP primary voters on March 15. The margin of error is plus or minus four percentage points. Fox Chicago commissioned the Springfield, Ill., polling firm We Ask America to conduct its survey, which polled 1,993 likely Republican voters on March 14. The sampling error is plus or minus 2.2 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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