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PPP: In North Carolina, Santorum Is Tied with Obama; Romney Trails by 1

12:44 PM, Jan 11, 2012 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
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The latest PPP polling in North Carolina, the swing-state where the Democrats are holding their 2012 convention, shows Rick Santorum faring slightly better than Mitt Romney versus President Obama. The poll shows Santorum and Obama tied at 46 percent apiece in a hypothetical general election matchup, while Romney trails Obama by one percentage point — 46 to 45 percent.

Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum

Newt Gingrich trails Obama by 5 additional points (49 to 43 percent), but Gingrich has faced an onslaught of negative advertising — 45 percent of all ads run in Iowa were negative ads against Gingrich — unlike anything that Romney or Santorum has yet had to face. In that light, Gingrich’s tally at this stage is actually relatively impressive. 

The poll also asks, “If the candidates for President this year were Democrat Barack Obama, Republican Mitt Romney, and Libertarian Gary Johnson, who would you vote for?” In that scenario, Obama’s lead over Romney grows to 4 points — Obama 45 percent, Romney 41 percent, and Johnson 8 percent.  (The effect of a potential Johnson candidacy, if any, on a Gingrich-Obama or Santorum-Obama matchup wasn’t measured.)   

In truth, North Carolina is a state that the Republican nominee would likely have to win — and perhaps relatively handily — in order to win the presidency. Obama won nationwide by 7.3 points last time, but his winning margin in North Carolina was only 0.3. Evidence that Romney is trailing there doesn’t help strengthen his electability argument heading into the crucial GOP primary in neighboring South Carolina. 

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