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Survey Says: Santorum’s Social Views Killing Him in Michigan

There’s a chance Rick Santorum may still scrape out a win in Michigan tomorrow. This morning’s Public Policy Polling survey has Mitt Romney leading him by just a few points, 39 percent to 37 percent. But the internal numbers look worse for Santorum, and his ongoing slide in the state seems to be due to his focus on social issues:

One place Santorum may have hurt himself in the last week is an overemphasis on social issues. 69 percent of voters say they’re generally more concerned with economic issues this year to only 17 percent who pick social issues. And with the overwhelming majority of voters more concerned about the economy, Romney leads Santorum 45-30. Santorum’s winning those more concerned about social issues 79-12 but it’s just not that big a piece of the pie.

Santorum’s net favorability has also taken a hit:

The last week of the campaign in Michigan has seen significant damage to Santorum’s image with GOP voters in the state. His net favorability has declined 29 points from +44 (67/23) to now only +15 (54/39). Negative attacks on Romney meanwhile have had no negative effect with his favorability steady at +20 (57/37). Two weeks ago Santorum’s net favorability in Michigan was 34 points better than Romney’s. Now Romney’s is 5 points better than Santorum’s. Those kinds of wild swings are the story of the GOP race.

If Santorum does win Michigan tomorrow, you can point to the timing. He’s on the downswing in the state, and his momentum is fading by the day. If this race was taking place Friday instead of Tuesday, you could safely bet on Romney.

It’s also interesting that negative attacks against Romney have largely been a bust, while negative attacks against Santorum have clearly hit the mark. Just a few weeks ago, when Santorum was rising in the polls, Romney was warned not to go too negative on his opponent. The backlash from attacking Santorum – a conservative favorite and someone who’d been careful to avoid getting into the mud – seemed to be too much of a risk. But clearly, the predictions were wrong.


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