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Santorum Is Faring Better in Swing States, Romney Nationally

7:48 AM, Mar 18, 2012 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
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The latest Rasmussen poll of likely general election voters in the “core four” swing states of Florida, Ohio, Virginia, and North Carolina shows Rick Santorum leading President Obama by 4 percentage points (48 to 44 percent), while Mitt Romney trails Obama by 4 points (46 to 42 percent) — an 8-point swing.

Rick Santorum

The disparity in these four states is far greater among independents. Romney edges Obama by 4 points among independents (44 to 40 percent). Santorum, meanwhile, is handily beating Obama among independents — by 22 points (56 to 34 percent).

The poll was taken from March 10th to 15th. In the average of Rasmussen’s national polling taken in that same window, Romney led Obama by 1 point (46 to 45 percent), while Santorum trailed Obama by 4 points (47 to 43 percent). So, at least based on this polling, Santorum appears to be running stronger in key swing states than nationally, while Romney appears to be running stronger nationally than in key swing states. 

Of course, this election won’t be decided by whether the Republican nominee manages to achieve more respectable margins of defeat in California, New York, and Massachusetts. Rather, if the GOP nominee holds up in the four slightly GOP-leaning swing states (those that Rasmussen polled), the odds of winning the presidency would shift very much in his favor. If he were to lose in even one of those four, the advantage would swing to Obama. Moreover, if the GOP candidate loses in either Florida or Ohio (the two largest of the four), then he’d almost have to win in Pennsylvania (a nearly must-win state for Obama) — Santorum’s home state.

This is not the first time that polling has shown Santorum faring better than Romney versus Obama in swing states while Romney is faring better nationally. Earlier this week, Rasmussen showed Santorum slightly outperforming Romney in Florida.  Moreover, the latest USA Today/Gallup swing-state poll, released two-and-a-half weeks ago and pairing each of the GOP hopefuls versus Obama in 12 swing states, showed Santorum faring 3 points better than Romney. In both cases, the same polling outfit showed Romney faring slightly better than Santorum nationally during the same period.

Perhaps not-so-coincidentally, USA Today’s write-up of its swing-state poll is entitled, “Swing states poll: Health care law hurts Obama in 2012.” Obamacare appears to be even more unpopular in swing states than it is nationally. Santorum has made his opposition to Obamacare the cornerstone of his candidacy, while Romney has not — and that may be the key to Santorum’s swing-state success.  

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