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FDU national poll finds Santorum and Romney neck and neck

santorumRick021412_optObama beats all challengers

Former Pennsylvania U.S. senator Rick Santorum ties with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in Republican preferences for their party’s nomination, each garnering 33 percent, according to a Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind poll made public Tuesday.

Newt Gingrich, once the front-runner, is fading with just 15 percent, while Ron Paul trails with 7 percent.

Santorum not only ties Romney, but is the preferred second choice for Republicans with 29 percent. This compares to 26 percent for Gingrich and 24 percent 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,” Prof . Peter Woolley, the poll’s director, said.

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 percent naming him as their least favorite. Gingrich is the least favorite of 22 percent, while Romney is the least favorite of 12 percent. The bad news for Romney is that Santorum is the least favorite of just 7 percent.

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.

In contrast to his own claims, Gingrich fares worst among the Republican candidates when matched against Obama, losing 36 percent to 51 percent, and is the only Republican to put the president over 50 percent.

Ron Paul is the only Republican to best the president among independent voters who are not leaners, 41 percent to 34 percent. Yet nearly one in five Republicans aren’t sure they’d vote for him.

Romney is the only Republican to win decisively among men, 48 percent to 39 percent. Paul ties and Gingrich and Santorum lose. Nonetheless, Romney continues to trail the president 41 percent to 45 percent, little changed from previous measures over the past year.

Obama consistently attracts better than four of five Democrats and lean Democrats.

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

“If 48 percent 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,” Woolley said.

The poll of 903 registered voters nationwide was conducted by telephone from Feb. 6 through Sunday, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

—TOM HESTER SR., NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

 

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