A pair of new polls show that Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are now in a national dead heat in the race for the Republican presidential nomination — and President Obama is increasing his lead over both men.
The most recent Gallup daily tracking poll shows Romney leading Santorum by a statistically insignificant 2 point margin, 32 percent to 30 percent. Gingrich is third in the poll at 16 percent, followed by Ron Paul at 8 percent. Santorum’s support in the Gallup poll has surged since his victories in Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri; on the day of those contests, Santorum was stuck in third place nationally at 16 percent.
The newest Pew Research poll confirms that the two candidates are essentially tied; Pew has Santorum leading Romney 30 percent to 28 percent, with Gingrich at 17 percent and Paul at 15 percent. The Pew survey also helps to illustrate the magnitude of Santorum’s surge, as he was in fourth place at 14 percent in Pew’s previous national poll, published on January 17th.
According to the Pew poll, Romney’s slide in the polls has been fueled by the right’s increasing dissatisfaction with his conservative credentials. Santorum leads Romney among self-described conservative voters by a 36-25 percent margin, and among Tea Party supporters by a 42-23 percent margin. Along the same lines, only 29 percent of Tea Party supporters now believe that Romney is “a strong conservative,” compared to 68 percent who do not. That represents a huge slide from November, when 51 percent of Tea Partiers believed Romney to be a strong conservative, compared to just 41 percent who did not.
The poll holds more bad news for Romney; according to Pew, President Obama now leads Romney 52-44 percent in a hypothetical general election match up. That number is up from Obama’s 50-45 percent lead in January, and his 49-47 percent lead in November. Notably, 51 percent of independents said that they would support Obama over Romney, up from only 40 percent in January.
The Pew survey suggests that Obama would also trounce Santorum in a general election; the President leads Santorum 53-43 percent in a hypothetical head to head match up.