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March 14, 2012

Santorum opens big lead in Pennsylvania

Rick Santorum has a big home state advantage in Pennsylvania, leading Mitt Romney 36-22, according to a new Quinnipiac poll out Wednesday morning.

Ron Paul is third with 12 percent. Newt Gingrich, who actually was born in Pennsylvania but moved away when he was young, trails in fourth with 8 percent.

Santorum, who represented Pennsylvania in Congress before losing his last election, leads among most blocs ofvoters, the poll found, erasing any doubts that his last loss there might make him vulnerable.

He leads Romney 41-18 among women, 30-27 among men, 50-21 among Tea Party members, 44-20 among conservatives and 46-17 among white evangelical Christians. Romney leads 29-20 among moderates.

“Pennsylvania Republicans are turning to their native son, former Sen. Rick Santorum. The last time we surveyed the Keystone State, during the Gingrich boomlet in December, the former House Speaker led the GOP pack with 31 percent, followed by Gov. Mitt Romney with 17 percent and Santorum with 9 percent,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

“Santorum’s lead among conservatives, Tea Party members and white evangelical Christians is what we have found in other states,” Malloy added.

“What we’ve also seen in other states is that Romney comes from behind, riding a tidal wave of negative advertising. Whether attack ads work against a native son remains to be seen.”

Santorum also represents the Republican Party’s best chance in the battleground state against President Obama, the poll found.

In a hypothetical fall matchup in Pennsylvania, Obama gets 45 percent and Santorum gets 44 percent.

The rest of the matchups:
-Obama 45, Paul 40;
-Obama 46, Romney 40;
-Obama 50, Gingrich, 37.

Pennsylvania voters split 47-49 percent on whether Obama deserves to be reelected.

“President Barack Obama has lackluster approval, favorability and reelection numbers in Pennsylvania, but this is his highest approval rating in a year and his best performance in months running against Mitt Romney,” Malloy said.

“Romney’s favorability drops from a positive 34 – 30 percent in December to a negative 33 – 43 percent today.”

The poll, conducted before Tuesday’s Santorum wins in Alabama and Mississippi, had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points for all voters, and plus or minus
4.4 percentage points for Republicans.

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