Santorum, Romney moving in opposite directions

Updated
 
Santorum, Romney moving in opposite directions
Santorum, Romney moving in opposite directions

Yesterday’s Gallup daily tracking poll showed Mitt Romney’s national lead over Rick Santorum dropping from 20 to 2 points since early February. As Tricia noted earlier, a New York Times/CBS News poll released this morning found Santorum taking the lead from Romney nationally, 30% to 27%.

The Pew Research Center’s latest survey helps bolster the trend.

Rick Santorum’s support among Tea Party Republicans and white evangelicals is surging, and he now has pulled into a virtual tie with Mitt Romney in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. In polling conducted Feb. 8-12, 30% of Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters favor Santorum while 28% favor Romney. As recently as a month ago, Romney held a 31% to 14% advantage over Santorum among all GOP voters.

The closer one looks at the results, the worse they appear for the former Massachusetts governor. Romney can’t even push the “electability” line, since he appears to have lost this edge, too – Pew shows President Obama leading Romney and Santorum by similar margins. In the Midwest, Santorum is actually stronger against Obama than Romney (though both trail the president in the region by double digit margins).

What’s more, confirming other recent data, the race for the Republican nomination itself is taking its toll on Romney’s public standing. As was discussed on the show last night, self-identified independents are moving away from the former governor in droves.

The good news for Romney is he has ample time and resources to get back on track. He’s seen credible challengers catch up to him before, only to be dispatched in the wake of millions of dollars in attack ads. The former governor also maintains the support of the party establishment, which has not yet reached for the panic button.

The bad news for Romney is, well, everything else is going poorly. He’s slipping in the polls; there are growing doubts about his candidacy; and the more voters get to know him, they less they like him. Romney expected to have wrapped the nomination up by now, and that clearly hasn’t happened.

Santorum, Romney moving in opposite directions

Updated