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Santorum: Collapsing the Keystone

March 28th, 2012 - 1:35 pm

Rick Santorum is having trouble in… his home state of Pennsylvania? Looks that way:

With the state primary four weeks away, Santorum now finds himself nearly tied with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney among the state’s Republicans, and support is eroding rapidly, according to a Franklin & Marshall College poll out today.

“The real Rick Santorum has emerged,” said G. Terry Madonna, director of the Franklin & Marshall College Poll.

Santorum ran a disciplined campaign for eight months, but a month ago he began veering off message into all these cultural and social issues,” Madonna said, referring to flare-ups over women in combat and contraceptives. “That may help with his core voters, but they’re already with him. This is supposed to be about expanding your base.”

The poll of 505 registered Republican voters, conducted March 20-25 in conjunction with the Tribune-Review and other media outlets, shows Santorum clinging to a small lead over Romney, 30 percent to 28 percent, within the poll’s 4.2 percent margin of error. [Emphasis added]

I hate to say “I told you so,” but I did — at least three times.

I owe a tip of the hat to Santorum supporter Ed Morrissey, who adds:

On the surface, it makes it look as though voters won’t have much reason to choose between the two front-runners. Santorum still gets higher favorables (54/26) than Romney (46/25), but that may change when Romney starts focusing on Pennsylvania after next Tuesday. The other states holding primaries on the 24th are New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Delaware — all states that Romney should win easily. Romney can afford to try a knockout blow in the Keystone State in the three weeks open to him.

If Santorum can’t carry Pennsylvania, the race will be over. Team Santorum had better hope this is an outlier.

One poll doesn’t make a trend. But PA comes at the end of a “tough month” for Santorum, which could make for a cascade effect of collapsing support.

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