TIME/CNN Arizona Poll: Romney Holds Narrow Lead over Santorum

  • Share
  • Read Later

Mitt Romney holds a narrow lead over Rick Santorum in Arizona with a week to go before the state’s Feb. 28 primary, according to a new TIME/CNN/ORC poll.

Romney is backed by 36% of likely Republican voters in the state, a slight edge over Santorum’s 32% in the winner-take-all scramble for the state’s 29 convention delegates. Newt Gingrich lags in third with 18%, while Ron Paul nabs 6%. The survey, conducted Feb. 17–20, has a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

Along with a pivotal contest on the same day in Michigan, Arizona’s primary is the first major test of Santorum’s staying power since the former Pennsylvania Senator vaulted to the lead in national polls after grabbing a trio of symbolic victories on Feb. 7 in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado. For Romney, Arizona — which has the fifth-highest percentage of Mormons in the U.S. —  is considered friendly territory, as is his native state of Michigan. He finished second in Arizona in 2008 behind the state’s senior Senator, John McCain. The former Massachusetts governor has outspent Santorum in Arizona and visited more frequently.

Romney has cobbled together a coalition that includes female voters, urbanites and more moderate and educated Arizonans. He leads Santorum among women (38% to 33%), white collar Republicans (39% to 32%), college graduates (38% to 31%), voters who are neutral toward or oppose the Tea Party movement (42% to 27%) and those who make under $50,000 (36% to 28%). Romney’s stronghold is Maricopa County, home to the state’s capital and largest city, Phoenix, and where he holds a 6-point advantage. The two candidates are deadlocked across the remainder of the state.

Santorum’s lone significant demographic advantage is among born-again Christians, with whom he leads Romney 37% to 28%. A devout Catholic known as a staunch supporter of conservative social views, Santorum is locked in a virtual dead heat with Romney among self-identified conservatives, blue collar voters and Tea Party supporters. To pull an upset, Santorum will have to rack up large margins of victory among these groups, with whom he has performed well in past contests.

With a week to go, there is still time for the race to swing in either direction. Just 58% of respondents in the TIME/CNN/ORC poll said they would definitely support their preferred candidate, while 34% suggested they were open to changing their mind. On Tuesday, Santorum logged his first visit to the state since the GOP primary began, and the four remaining Republican hopefuls will square off on Wednesday night in their first debate since Jan. 26, and the final televised forum scheduled in the primary season.

Methodology: In Arizona, a total of 2,007 adults, including 670 registered Republicans, were interviewed by telephone using standard random-digit dialing methods. All respondents were asked questions concerning their registration status and basic demographics, and the entire sample was weighted to reflect statewide Census figures for gender, race, age, education and region of the state. In total, 467 likely voters were identified based on each respondent’s party registration status (only registered Republicans were selected), stated intention to participate in the 2012 primary, interest in the campaign to date and self-reported voting history. The poll, conducted by ORC Feb. 17–20, has a sampling error of +/- 4.5 percentage points.

0 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest