Santorum Leads in Three of Five YouGov Super Tuesday Polls

Romney and Gingrich lead in their home states, but trail Santorum in Ohio, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.

Five days before the crucial Republican primaries on "Super Tuesday" (March 6), former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum holds narrow leads over his opponents in Oklahoma and Ohio and a wider margin in Tennessee.

The Oklahoma race is nearly a toss-up, with Santorum leading at 28%, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney second at 25%, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich trailing at 20%. (These differences are well within the 8.8% margin of error for the Oklahoma poll.)

In delegate-rich Ohio, Santorum holds a six point advantage over Romney (33% to 27%, which is also within the margin of error), with Gingrich far behind at 12%. Santorum's largest edge is in Tennessee, where he leads Romney 32% to 23%, though the race tightens to a seven point margin when undecided voters are counted for the candidate they say they lean toward.

Both Romney and Gingrich lead in their home states. Romney faces little competition in Massachusetts, where he currently leads Santorum by 56% to 16%.Gingrich leads Romney in Georgia by a much narrower 32% to 27% margin, with Santorum at 17%.

All five of these polls were conducted online by YouGov between February 25 and March 1. The samples were limited to registered voters who said they were likely to vote (or who had already voted) in the Republican presidential primary. The sample sizes ranged from 250 in Oklahoma to 650 in Ohio. 

Which candidate will you vote for in the Republican primary election for president?
 GeorgiaMassachusettsOhioOklahomaTennessee
Mitt Romney 27% 56% 27% 25% 23%
Rick Santorum 17% 16% 33% 28% 32%
Newt Gingrich 32% 5% 12% 20% 16%
Ron Paul 10% 5% 9% 8% 13%
Not sure 14% 17% 19% 19% 15%
Which candidate will you vote for in the Republican primary election for president? [For undecided voters: Who are you leaning toward?]
 GeorgiaMassachusettsOhioOklahomaTennessee
Mitt Romney 32% 64% 32% 30% 30%
Rick Santorum 21% 21% 41% 38% 37%
Newt Gingrich 36% 6% 15% 22% 19%
Ron Paul 11% 9% 12% 9% 15%

Republican voters show little enthusiasm for the current crop of candidates. In Ohio, 49% of likely primary voters say they would like to see another candidate in the race, while in Georgia, Oklahoma and Tennessee that percentage is 43%, 41% and 40%, respectively. Massachusetts Republicans are the happiest with 72% indicating that they are satisfied with the choice offered.

Voters in all five states agree that Romney has the best chance of defeating President Obama in November. When asked how likely each of the candidates would be to win in November if they were nominated, more than 50% in all five states thought Romney would "definitely" or "probably win."

Santorum does best in the places where voters are most optimistic about his chances of defeating Obama. In Oklahoma, 47% of voters think he would beat Obama, and 44% of Tennessee voters say the same. This is compared to only 22% of Massachusetts voters and 31% of Georgia voters. Santorum still leads in Ohio, despite only 36% of voters believing that he is more likely than not to defeat Obama.

Percent of GOP primary voters who say the GOP candidate would probably or definitely win against Obama in the presidential election in November
 GeorgiaMassachusettsOhioOklahomaTennessee
Romney vs. Obama 59% 70% 54% 65% 62%
Santorum vs. Obama 31% 22% 36% 47% 44%
Gingrich vs. Obama 37% 19% 31% 39% 39%
Paul vs. Obama 14% 9% 11% 18% 20%

In most states, GOP voters are divided about what's more important — a candidate's "ability to beat Obama" or their "positions on the issues." The main exception is Tennessee, where issue positions are rated as more important than electability by a 59% to 39% margin.

These polls were conducted by YouGov, a leading online polling organization, which has accurately forecasted the outcomes of recent national elections. According to the National Council on Public Polls (NCPP), YouGov's online polls outperformed both live interviewer and automated telephone polls in the 2010 midterm elections. In both 2010 and 2008, YouGov accurately predicted the national vote split to within one percent.

Respondents were interviewed between February 25 and March 1, 2012. Respondents were selected from an opt-in panel and matched and weighted to the demographics (age, race, gender, education and region) of Republican primary voters in the 2008 exit poll. The sample size and margin of error (adjusted for weighting) for each state's poll are shown below.

  GeorgiaMassachusettsOhioOklahomaTennessee
Number of Interviews 500 400 650 250 500
Margin of error ±6.3% ±8.7% ±5.3% ±8.8% ±6.6%

 

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