Romney, Santorum Share Lead In New Poll Of GOP Voters

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STATE — According to a new national poll of registered voters by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind™, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum ties with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in Republican preferences for their party’s nomination, each garnering 33%. Newt Gingrich, once the front-runner, is fading with just 15%, while Ron Paul trails with 7%.

Santorum not only ties Romney, but is the preferred second choice for Republicans with 29%. This compares to 26% for Gingrich and 24% for Romney.

“After all this time, Romney still can’t stay in the lead, and now is not even doing well as a second choice,” observed Peter Woolley, a political scientist and director of the poll.

The good news for Romney is that he is not Republican voters’ “least favorite.” That distinction goes to the really, really small government candidate Ron Paul, with 48% naming him as their least favorite. Gingrich is the least favorite of 22%, while Romney is the least favorite of just 12%.

The bad news for Romney is that Rick Santorum is the least favorite of just 7%.

As Republicans progress through their extended primary season, they’re not making gains on the White House. President Obama still beats all Republican comers by margins from 4 to 15 percentage points.

“What we see here is one party that is basically satisfied with its candidate, and another that is at odds with itself, not just over candidates, but solutions,” said Woolley.

The country’s “right direction” number is up 12 points since December, to 32%, while the “wrong track” number declined by 11 points to 59% from 70%. But the president’s approval has not improved, with 44% approving to 48% disapproving.

“If 48% of voters can disapprove of the president, and the president can still beat all comers, it is a reflection of the weakness of the Republican field,” said Woolley.

The FDU poll of 903 registered voters nationwide was conducted by landlines and cell phones from Feb. 6 through Feb. 12, 2012, and has a margin of error of +/-3.3 percentage points. Republican preferences are based on an oversample including 578 Republican and voters who lean Republican, and has a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.


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