Santorum trails Romney in his home state of Pennsylvania: poll

WASHINGTON Thu Apr 5, 2012 10:42am EDT

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum addresses supporters at his Wisconsin and Maryland primary night rally in Mars, Pennsylvani, April 3, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Cohn

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum addresses supporters at his Wisconsin and Maryland primary night rally in Mars, Pennsylvani, April 3, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Cohn

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, in what may be a grim development for his campaign, has lost the lead in his home state of Pennsylvania to front-runner Mitt Romney, according to a poll released on Thursday.

Romney now leads in Pennsylvania with 42 percent to 37 percent for Santorum, according to the Public Policy Polling survey. Ron Paul was at 9 percent and Newt Gingrich at 6 percent, the poll found.

"Mitt Romney has a great chance to deliver a final crushing blow to (Santorum's) campaign on April 24th," said Dean Debnam, president of the polling firm.

Santorum has been banking his hopes on recapturing some momentum in the race by winning Pennsylvania's primary. He is the last remaining obstacle for Romney, who is closing in on the nomination after sweeping Republican contests on Tuesday in Wisconsin, Maryland and Washington D.C.

Santorum had been a U.S. senator from that state until 2006, when he was defeated by double digits. A devout Catholic, he is taking several days off the campaign trail to observe the long Easter weekend, his spokesman said.

Pennsylvania's primary is one of five northeastern states to hold nominating contests on April 24. The group includes New York and Connecticut, where Romney, a former governor of nearby Massachusetts, has been favored to win.

If Santorum loses or scrapes by with just a narrow win in his home state, he will come under increased pressure from senior Republicans to pull out of the race.

Karl Rove, a former strategist for President George W. Bush, called Santorum a "fading candidate" in an opinion piece Thursday for the Wall Street Journal and shot down Santorum's argument that a prolonged nomination race would energize the party ahead of the general election.

"That's the argument of a desperate candidate. More and more Republicans think such a bloodletting would severely set back the cause of defeating Barack Obama," Rove wrote.

Thursday's poll also showed Romney gaining among conservative groups that have previously tended to back Santorum.

A previous 37-point lead for Santorum over Romney among evangelicals has shrunk to 10 points, and what was a 32-point lead among Tea Party supporters is now only 6 points, according to the poll.

The poll surveyed 403 likely Republican voters by phone on Wednesday. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.9 percent.

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Comments (8)
Bucky_2 wrote:
A few Mormons at the polls in the largely apathetic turn out for the GOP primaries have tipped the scales in Romney’s favor.

Apr 05, 2012 11:25am EDT  --  Report as abuse
bobber1956 wrote:
And he will grow up. And be back. I can not myself support him at this time since his little tantrum with the media. He is NOT the one at this time to have his hand on the button. He is young, he will learn, and he has four qualities we really do need in a leader. He really does care(maybe too much), he is moral(though that needs to be tempered), he is intelligent(though a bit naive), and he is sincere. All of his discredits are managable, if he is willing. Rick will be back.

Apr 05, 2012 11:31am EDT  --  Report as abuse
bocomojoe wrote:
That’s because the people of PA know Santorum and want to be rid of him.

Apr 05, 2012 12:23pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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