Gallup Polls Indicate Santorum Leading for Nomination, Romney Most Electable

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Republicans are conflicted between Santorum and Romney. Image by Gage Skidmore

Rick Santorum has expanded his nationwide lead from a statistical tie to a 10 point spread, according to Gallup daily tracking conducted February 21. Among Republican registered voters, 36 percent favor Santorum, 26 percent favor Mitt Romney, 13 percent favor Newt Gingrich and 11 percent favor Ron Paul.

A separate poll conducted by USA Today and Gallup during the same time period seems to suggest that the general electorate may not be confident that Santorum can win against President Obama.

When asked whether Santorum or Romney stood the best chance of beating Obama in the general election, 58 percent selected Romney and 29 percent selected Santorum. The number did not change significantly when the sample was reduced to include only Republicans and Republican leaners, with 58 percent selecting Romney and 32 percent selecting Santorum.

Gallup Daily Tracking Methodology

The daily tracking Republican sample consisted of 1194 self-identified registered Republicans, who were contacted via landline and cell phone from February 15 to February 19. The margin of error was +/-4 percentage points. Gallup conducts interviews in English and Spanish and has minimum quotas of 400 cell phone contacts and 600 landline contacts per 1000 respondents. Results are weighted for demographics, phone status and multiple adults in household.

USA Today/Gallup Poll Methodology

The sample of 1014 national adults was contacted via landline and cell phone from February 16 to February 19. Republicans within the national sample numbered 481. The margin of error was +/-4 points. All typical Gallup standards including phone status quotas and weighting were used.

Gallup Question Wording

When viewing these two polls together, many will conclude that Santorum is more likeable among Republicans, but a national sample sees Romney as being more electable. The polling questions should also be considered in this analysis, as the tracking poll included options to select among four candidates, and the USA Today poll only included two candidates.  These polls appear to bring good news for Romney, since he fares better when two of the three more conservative candidates running against him are eliminated, and most of the far-right vote is presumably funneled toward Santorum. The Romney camp should consider, however, that a positive electability vote does not necessarily equal enthusiasm, as is evident in Romney’s struggle to secure the GOP nomination.

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