Elections 2012: Michigan Polls Show Romney and Santorum Close Before Tuesday Vote

A final day of interviewing on Monday in Michigan by Public Policy Polling finds what the Democratic Party-affiliated polling firm describes as “momentum swinging” in the direction of Rick Santorum.

Mitt Romney faces a day of reckoning on Tuesday when Michigan votes to either grant him a big victory in the Republican presidential nomination battle or hand him a humiliating defeat. Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

In interviews conducted on Monday, PPP showed Santorum leading Mitt Romney by a five percentage points (39 percent to 34 percent), a margin that represents a net seven point reversal from the pollster’s interviews conducted on Sunday, which gave Mitt Romney a two percentage point advantage (39 percent to 37 percent), reports The Huff Post.

PPP’s full two-night poll shows a near dead-heat, with 38 percent for Santorum, 37 percent for Romney, 14 percent or Ron Paul and 9 percent for Newt Gingrich.

The PPP statement says that  self-identified Democrats were a major factor in the apparent swing to Santorum. “Romney leads with actual Republican voters, 43-38,” PPP reported, “but Santorum’s up 47-10 with Democratic voters.”

The number of self-identified Democrats increased significantly as a percentage of PPP’s sample as their survey progressed. It was just five percent of their Sunday calls, but increased to 8 percent of the combined Sunday-Monday sample.

Five new polls in Michigan, all conducted on Saturday or Sunday, point to a close finish between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum in the state’s Republican primary on Tuesday.

Although Romney has gained over the last two weeks, the results of the final round of polling are inconsistent, both as to which candidate is leading and whether either candidate will benefit from a late uptick.

Three of the five surveys, by Rasmussen Reports, Public Policy Polling (PPP) and We Ask America, show Romney ahead of Santorum by two to four percentage points.

The two others, an automated poll by Mitchell Research and the one live-interviewer survey by the American Research Group (ARG), show Santorum ahead of Romney by one to two percentage points.

All eyes are on Michigan because a victory for Santorum on what is essentially Romney’s home turf would raise questions about Romney’s candidacy a week before a defining day of the 2012 campaign, March 6, the “Super Tuesday” when 10 states hold contests.

“I am going to win in Michigan and I’m going to win across the country,” Romney said on Monday.

Arizona votes as well on Tuesday and Romney has a comfortable lead there, aided by the man who beat him in the 2008 Republican presidential campaign, Arizona Senator John McCain, according to Reuters.

Romney has been hammering home his view that his experience as a private equity executive and former Massachusetts governor makes him the best candidate to defeat Obama and lead the U.S. economy back to strong job growth.

He has also been sharply critical of Santorum.

“I’ve spent 25 years in business,” Romney said. “I understand why jobs go, why they come. I understand what happens to corporate profit, where it goes if the government takes it. This is what I’ve done for all my life. Senator Santorum is a nice guy, but he’s never had a job in the private sector.”

Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, has made himself competitive in Michigan by pressing his conservative views on social issues and by spreading a blue-collar message about the need to rebuild the manufacturing base in the hard-hit Midwestern state.

“We’ve been traveling all over the state, and I’m really excited about the response. I think we’re going to surprise a few people tomorrow night,” Santorum said on Monday.

Other Republican candidates, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, are running far behind the two leaders and have not competed heavily, making the state a Romney-or-Santorum contest.

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