Santorum Surge in National and SC Polls, Romney Still Leads

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Is the Santorum surge resonating in the polls yet? Image by Gage Skidmore

Is the Santorum surge overtaking Mitt Romney?

Two Rasmussen polls released Friday indicate that GOP polling in South Carolina closely mimics current national polling among likely Republican primary voters. Although candidate Mitt Romney is heavily favored in New Hampshire, where the first GOP primary will occur on January 10, he is currently polling at only three points ahead of Rick Santorum in South Carolina, which will hold its primaries on January 21.

When Rasmussen polled a national sample of Republicans, Romney’s lead was in single digits, at eight points. Considering Romney’s photo-finish Iowa caucus win, edging Santorum by only eight votes, some political pundits believe the primary in South Carolina may bring about a shift in momentum.  However, national polling and South Carolina polling by Gallup and CNN/Time indicate  significantly wider gaps between Romney and Santorum.

Rasmussen Polling Methodology

The national poll was conducted on January 4, and consisted of 1000 self-identified likely Republican primary voters.  The margin of error was +/-3. The South Carolina poll was conducted on January 5, and consisted of 750 self-identified likely Republican primary voters. The margin of error was +/-4. Rasmussen uses random dialing of landlines to contact respondents, and interviewing is conducted via an automated system. Internet polling is also used to include respondents who do not use landlines. Survey results are weighted for demographics, phone status, and adults in household.

Pros and Cons of the Rasmussen Methodology

Rasmussen is often criticized for only polling during the course of one day, but in this case there may be an advantage to this method, since aggregate polling trends show that Santorum is surging rapidly, making many polls that included results from previous days obsolete. However, flaws remain due to the automated and online interviewing techniques, and the exclusion of exclusive cell phone users who may not be interested in participating in Web-based polling.

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