New Ohio Poll Suggests Romney With Momentum

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GOP Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney, holds a campaign rally and Q and A session at the Portland Company Marine Complex in Portand, ME, February 10, 2012.

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By Paul Steinhauser, CNN Political Editor

(CNN) — With one day to go until Super Tuesday, Mitt Romney’s on top in Ohio’s Republican presidential primary, according to a new poll.

A Quinnipiac University survey released Monday indicates that 34% of likely Buckeye State GOP primary voters are backing Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who’s making his second bid for the nomination, with 31% supporting former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. Romney’s three point advantage is within the poll’s sampling error, meaning it’s basically all knotted up in Ohio. Fifteen percent are backing former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, with 12% supporting Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.

A week ago Santorum held a seven point lead over Romney in Ohio in Quinnipiac polling. That survey was conducted before last Tuesday, when Romney easily won Arizona’s primary and edged out Santorum to win the primary in his home state of Michigan.

A Quinnipiac poll released this past Friday and conducted right after last Tuesday’s primaries indicated Santorum on top, but within the sampling error. An NBC News/Marist poll released Sunday also indicated a tie between Santorum and Romney, with Santorum holding a two point margin, well within that survey’s sampling error.

Sixty-three delegates are up for grabs Tuesday in Ohio, one of 10 states to hold contests on Super Tuesday. While more delegates are up for grabs in Georgia, Ohio is arguably the most crucial of the states holding a Super Tuesday contest because of its status as a major general election battleground.

According to the Quinnipiac University poll, men are split between Santorum and Romney, with Romney holding a nine point advantage among women. And self described conservatives, normally a strong base for Santorum, are also divided between him and Romney.

“To borrow from the book of Berra, Yogi that is: It’s deja vu all over again for Gov. Mitt Romney. Just as he did in Florida and Michigan, Romney has erased a sizable deficit a week before the primary to grab the momentum in the final 24 hours,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “A week ago, Quinnipiac had Sen. Santorum ahead by seven points, now it’s Romney by three – a ten-point swing in seven days. The margin makes the Ohio race too close to call, but Romney is the one with the wind at his back.”

The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted March 2-4, with 753 likely GOP primary voters in Ohio questioned by telephone. The survey’s sampling error is plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.

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