Up until Tuesday night’s debate, Rick Santorum had held the lead in Michigan polls. A lackluster debate performance that included booing from the audience seems to have changed the minds of Michigan voters according to a Rasmussen Reports telephone survey.
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.
Digging into the survey results deeper shows an interesting conflict. When asked “If the 2012 Republican Primary for president were held today, would you vote for Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul?”, 40% chose Romney while 34% chose Santorum – a reversal from a February 20th poll where Santorum held the edge on that question 38% to 34%. If the question is reduced to asking “Suppose the 2012 Republican Primary for president were held today and you only had a choice between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. For whom would you vote?” Santorum takes the lead 46% to 44% so which of the other candidates is having an effect on Michigan election?
Ron Paul was selected 10% of the time and Newt Gingrich 9% of the time so both of the lower-tier candidates appear to be taking more of Santorum’s base than those that might vote for Romney.
” Electability” appears to also be driving poll results. When asked who survey respondents thought could beat Obama in the general election, 74% felt that Romney was very or somewhat likely to beat the president while only 59% said the same about Santorum. 44% of those responding to the survey thought that Newt could beat Obama while only 19% believed that Ron Paul stood a chance against the incumbent.
With the vote in Michigan being held next Tuesday, the trend and sentiment seem to be going Romney’s way.