Rasmussen: Santorum Surging In Ohio, Leads Romney By 18

The latest survey from Rasmussen Reports (released 2/16/12).

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum continues to ride his polling momentum into Ohio where he leads Mitt Romney by nearly two-to-one in the first Rasmussen Reports survey of Republicans in the state.

The new statewide telephone survey of Likely Republican Primary voters shows Santorum picking up 42% of the vote to Romney’s 24%. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich draws 13% support, while Texas Congressman Ron Paul picks up 10%. Three percent (3%) prefer some other candidate, and eight percent (8%) are undecided.

Santorum leads Romney by an even bigger margin – 58% to 30% - when the race is down to a one-on-one matchup in Ohio. Romney leads Gingrich 46% to 37% in a two-man race and Paul by a 58% to 26% margin.

Still, only 46% of Ohio Primary voters are certain of their vote at this time. Forty-seven percent (47%) say they could yet change their minds.

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Priebus Wipes Out RNC's Debt

Kudos to Chairman Reince Priebus for putting the Republican National Committee back in the black. The Hill's Cameron Joseph has more:

Republicans enjoyed a historic election in November 2010, but when Priebus took over a couple of months later, the RNC was $23 million in debt. Many donors had stopped giving to the RNC, which had been tarnished by various high-profile controversies. 

Priebus has brought them back, wiping out the RNC’s debt.

The RNC kept pace with the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in 2011. The GOP committee has $20 million in the bank and $13 million in debt, while the DNC has $12.5 million in cash on hand and $6.5 million in debt.

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Is Romney Still More Electable Than Santorum?

Political prognosticator Nate Silver still asserts that Mitt Romney has a better chance of defeating President Obama than Rick Santorum does. But according to Silver, the gap in electability between Romney and Santorum is not as wide as one might think.

The forecast model I’ve been using ... suggests that Mitt Romney is likely to fare better than Rick Santorum in the popular vote against Barack Obama. Specifically, the model would give Mr. Romney a 40 percent chance of winning the popular vote against Mr. Obama given G.D.P. growth of 2.5 percent this year (in line with the most recent forecasts), but Mr. Santorum just a 23 percent chance.

Mr. Romney’s comparative advantage in the model is based on a set of four objective indicators of candidate ideology, which suggest that Mr. Santorum is further from the center of the electorate on balance — an unfavorable factor historically.

In fact, the “electability gap” between Mr. Romney and Mr. Santorum that the model posits is not all that great. Specifically, it estimates that Mr. Romney’s more moderate ideology is worth a net of about 3 points in the popular vote — so an election that Mr. Santorum would win by 4 points, Mr. Romney would win by 7. The reason it looks bigger in terms of their respective odds against Mr. Obama is because the election is still projected to be fairly close over all, in which case any small advantage or disadvantage can be meaningful.

The point is simply that this is a debatable case — more so, say, than a comparison of Mr. Romney and Newt Gingrich might be. Also, a party is within its rights to consider factors above and beyond electability. A small additional chance of losing the general election to Mr. Obama might be deemed an acceptable risk if Republicans think Mr. Santorum would be more reliably conservative once in office.

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Romney Would Get Help From Rivals' Wealthy Donors

If Mitt Romney wins the Republican presidential nomination, he will have the backing of several wealthy donors who together have contributed millions of dollars to his rivals in the race.

The donors, some of the big-money players behind the unprecedented spending in the state-by-state race for the Republican nomination, quietly have pledged to back Romney if their initial choice isn't the nominee, one donor himself and sources close to other donors said.

The donors include Dallas billionaire Harold Simmons and Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, supporters of Texas Governor Rick Perry before he dropped out of the race last month. Also pledging conditional allegiance to Romney: Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, whose family has donated nearly $11 million to support Newt Gingrich; and Foster Friess, a Wyoming investor who is Rick Santorum's chief benefactor.

Sources close to each donor say that in accepting Romney as a consolation candidate, the financiers are united by one idea: a desire for the Republican nominee to defeat Democratic President Barack Obama in the November 6 election.

The conditional commitments to Romney also could help the former Massachusetts governor match the fundraising firepower of Obama, who will face the Republican nominee in the November 6 elections.

Obama's campaign had raised almost $97 million by the end of last year, far more than any of the Republican campaigns. However, Priorities USA, the PAC that supports Obama, had raised a relatively paltry $4.2 million.

Most wealthy Democratic donors have yet to kick in donations because Obama was slow to encourage such contributions and has not had an opponent in the primaries.

"When they see what the eventual (Republican) nominee's Super PAC can do, they'll step up," said Republican strategist Ford O'Connell, who worked on the 2008 presidential campaign of Republican Senator John McCain against Obama. "The Obama campaign realizes they need a Super PAC because it's a weapon and he really needs every weapon in his arsenal."

Read more from Alina Selyukh at Reuters

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U.S. Voter Rolls In Disarray

Ahead of the 2012 elections, this is very concerning news from Pew via The New York Times.

The nation’s voter registration rolls are in disarray, according to a report released Tuesday by the Pew Center on the States. The problems have the potential to affect the outcomes of local, state and federal elections.

The report found that there are about 1.8 million dead people listed as active voters. Some 2.8 million people have active registrations in more than one state. And 12 million registrations have errors serious enough to make it unlikely that mailings based on them will reach voters.

“These problems waste taxpayer dollars, undermine voter confidence and fuel partisan disputes over the integrity of our elections,” said David Becker, director of election initiatives at the center.

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Rick Santorum Ready To Tangle With Mitt Romney In Mich.

Mitt Romney could be in trouble in his native Michigan, where the latest polls give a surging Rick Santorum a surprise lead, a turn of events that suggests the erstwhile front-runner is having trouble selling his message while the once back-of-the-pack contender could be about to turn the GOP primary race on its head, political observers said.

A Public Policy Poll released yesterday shows the former Bay State governor barely in eyeshot of the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania. Santorum took 39 percent to Romney’s 24 percent in the Wolverine State, where Romney was raised and where his father served as governor. A Pew Research Center poll released yesterday also showed Santorum a nose ahead of Romney nationally, by 30 percent to 28 percent.

With two weeks to go ahead of the Michigan primary on Feb. 28, Romney, who bested John McCain there in 2008 with 39 percent of the vote, is still the favorite, experts said, but the state is now in play.

“Santorum doesn’t have the resources to go toe-to-toe with Romney at this point,” said Washington, D.C.-based strategist Ford O’Connell. “But if he wins Michigan, it’s a two-man race.”

Read more from Katy Jordon at the Boston Herald

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Ford O'Connell Discusses Santorum's Campaign Strategy And The Upcoming Michigan GOP Contest At Fox News

Ford O'Connell joins Fox News' Neil Cavuto on "Your World With Cavuto" to discuss Rick Santorum's strategy of going negative on Mitt Romney, the 2012 CPAC straw poll, the Maine caucuses and the upcoming Michigan GOP presidential nominating contest. Also, see Fox News Insider.

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Should Gingrich Exit The GOP Presidential Race?

According to the editors at the National Review, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich should bow out of the 2012 GOP presidential race. While I am not sure about this one, Santorum would certainly be the beneficiary if Gingrich exited at this juncture.

At the moment Rick Santorum appears to be overtaking Newt Gingrich as the principal challenger to Mitt Romney. Santorum has won more contests than Gingrich (who has won only one), has more delegates, and leads him in the polls. In at least one poll, he also leads Romney. It isn’t yet a Romney–Santorum contest, but it could be headed that way.

It is not clear whether Gingrich remains in the race because he still believes he could become president next year or because he wants to avenge his wounded pride: an ambiguity that suggests the problem with him as a leader. When he led Santorum in the polls, he urged the Pennsylvanian to leave the race. On his own arguments the proper course for [Gingrich] now is to endorse Santorum and exit.

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Santorum Surging In Michigan, Leads Romney By Double Digits

A handful of recently released national polls have Rick Santorum pulling even with Mitt Romney for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination; in fact, a couple even have Santorum leading Romney. But the most important poll of the day might have come from Democratic firm Public Policy Polling (PPP). According to the latest PPP survery, Santorum leads Romney by double digits in the upcoming Michigan (Feb. 28) Republican presidential nominating contest.

Rick Santorum's taken a large lead in Michigan's upcoming Republican primary. He's at 39% to 24% for Mitt Romney, 12% for Ron Paul, and 11% for Newt Gingrich.

Santorum's rise is attributable to two major factors: his own personal popularity (a stellar 67/23 favorability) and GOP voters increasingly souring on Gingrich.  Santorum's becoming something closer and closer to a consensus conservative candidate as Gingrich bleeds support.

“Rick Santorum has all the momentum in Michigan right now,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “But it’s important to note that more than 50% of voters say they could change their minds in the next 2 weeks. There’s a lot of room for this race to shift back toward Romney in the coming days.”

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White House Hopeful Romney Gets Boost In Maine

US presidential hopeful Mitt Romney receives a sorely needed boost in the rocky race for the Republican presidential nomination, winning a non-binding contest in Maine and a straw poll among conservatives after a trio of unnerving losses.

The former Massachusetts governor edged out Texas congressmanRon Paul by fewer than 200 votes in the Maine caucuses Saturday, and outpolled former senator Rick Santorum in the straw poll at theConservative Political Action Conference in Washington.

Though largely symbolic, those wins spelled relief for a candidate whose frontrunner status was again put in question Tuesday when Santorum scored upset victories in Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota.

Despite Romney's wins, however, the Republican race to pick a standard bearer to run against Obama in November remained unsettled.

The state's delegates to the Republican National Convention will be decided later, but with the next contests in the race taking place February 28 in Arizona and Michigan the results will likely reverberate for weeks.

Republican strategist Ford O'Connell told Fox News that Romney could not afford to lose four in a row going into Michigan and Arizona, with Santorum on the rise and the Super Tuesday primaries looming.

Read more at Yahoo News

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