Politics

Rick Santorum Makes His Move on Mitt Romney in Polls

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: February 11, 2012 3:55 AM
Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum | Credit: Dave Davidson - Prezography.com

Following his sweep of contests in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri on Tuesday, Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum has rocketed in the race for the GOP nomination -- and drawn increased fire from his rivals.

The Santorum campaign has accelerated its fundraising pace. Starting on Wednesday, the team behind the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania brought in more than $2.4 million in funds by Friday afternoon.

Santorum is also making a move in the polls.

A national poll from Fox News released on Friday finds former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts leading the pack of Republican presidential candidates with 33 percent followed by Santorum with 23 percent, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich with 22 percent and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas trailing with 15 percent.

The poll also shows how Santorum’s wins on Tuesday have given new life to his candidacy -- essentially at Gingrich’s expense. With those Republicans surveyed on Monday and Tuesday, Romney led with 35 percent followed by Gingrich with 26 percent, Santorum with 17 percent and Paul with 14 percent.

But the results change dramatically for Republicans surveyed on Wednesday and Thursday. With those Republicans, Romney and Santorum tied with 30 percent apiece. Gingrich plummeted to third with 16 percent while Paul took 15 percent.

The Fox News poll of 407 Republican primary voters was taken from Feb. 6-9 and had a margin of error of +/- 5 percent.

Other polling companies hinted at similar results for their forthcoming national polls.

Public Policy Polling, a firm with connections to prominent Democrats, teased an upcoming poll that bodes well for Santorum.

“We put a national poll in the field today and pretty clear your new leader is Rick Santorum,” PPP posted on its Twitter account.

Polls released this week also found Santorum making his move at the state level as well.

While he may have come in third place in the Florida Republican presidential primary at the end of January, a new poll shows that Santorum is doing better against President Barack Obama than Romney in the Sunshine State.

A Rasmussen Reports of likely voters in Florida, released on Friday, finds Santorum in a dead heat with Obama. The Democrat incumbent takes 47 percent with Santorum right behind him at 46 percent. Four percent back other candidates while 4 percent are undecided.

Romney, who won the Florida primary in a blowout, does slightly worse than Santorum against Obama in the poll. The Democrat stays at 47 percent while Romney garners 44 percent. Five percent are for other candidates while 3 percent are undecided.

The poll of 500 likely Florida voters was taken on Feb. 9 and had a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percent.

Santorum also did better than Romney against Obama in a Rasmussen poll released Thursday of another swing state -- Ohio. The poll finds Santorum tying Obama in the Buckeye State with each of them taking 44 percent. Romney, again, does worse than Santorum. Obama takes 45 percent with Romney garnering 41 percent in the poll.

The Rasmussen poll of 500 likely Ohio voters was taken Feb. 8 and had a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percent.

Santorum leads the Republican pack in Tennessee, which will hold its primary on March 6, according to a poll released on Friday from American Research Group.

The poll of likely Republican primary voters in the Volunteer State finds Santorum out front with 34 percent, followed by Romney with 27 percent. Gingrich takes third with 16 percent followed by Paul with 13 percent. Other candidates garner 1 percent while 9 percent of those surveyed are still undecided.

The ARG poll of 600 likely Tennessee Republican primary voters was taken Feb. 8-9 and had a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.

Following Santorum’s wins on Tuesday, the Romney team has been turning up the heat on their Republican rival, hammering his fiscal record.

“[Senator Santorum’s] a strong defender of earmarks," Romney said on Friday. “I oppose earmarks. I want to absolutely end earmarks. He grew government when he was in Washington by some 80 percent, and voted to raise the debt ceiling five different times -- and did so without looking for compensating cuts in the federal spending. I balanced the budget in my state for the four years that I was there, and put together a rainy day fund. So we have very differing views and a very different history on earmarks, on spending and on borrowing.”



Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or at (850) 727-0859.

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