(Week of 3/17/2012) Despite claims that a long campaign will hurt the eventual GOP nominee in the fall race against President Obama, Republican voters don’t want any candidates to drop out of the contest—at least not yet. In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, just 24% think all the trailing candidates should drop out in favor of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney; 48% think all should stay in until someone earns the delegates necessary to clinch the nomination.
28%, however, believe former House Speaker Newt Gingrich alone should leave the race, leaving former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum as Romney’s principal challenger.
Women GOP voters are more interested in having the Republican race conclude: 59% of them (compared with only 45% of men) say that either Gingrich or both Gingrich and Santorum should withdraw.
GOP presidential preference is still unsettled, though Mitt Romney has slighly expanded the lead he re-established over Rick Santorum in the last several weeks. This week he leads Santorum 31%-23%, with Newt Gingrich close behind and Ron Paul far back. However, in a hypothetical two-way race between the two leading candidates, Romney and Santorum are dead even. Moreover, in a two-race between Romney and Gingrich, Romney only barely wins. These results suggest that close to half of the Republican electorate evinces an anybody-but-Romney attitude.
Romney continues to be viewed by GOP voters as the candidate most likely to defeat President Barack Obama. 80% of GOP voters say Romney would defeat the President, compared with 64% who say that about Santorum. And Romney runs better than Santorum among all voters in the head-to-head fall matchups, though both would lose if the election were being held today.
But Romney is still weak with Republican voters when it comes to his conservative credentials — and his believability. Just one-third of GOP voters see Romney as a conservative (compared with 86% who view Santorum as conservative). And while 72% think Santorum says what he really believes, fewer than half believe that about Romney.
Photo source: Press Association