Skip to main content

Poll: Men, evangelicals boost Santorum

By Kevin Liptak, CNN
updated 6:11 AM EST, Wed February 22, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Poll shows strong national support for Santorum
  • He does particularly well with white evangelical Christians
  • Republicans, GOP-leaning independents polled

(CNN) -- A poll released Wednesday showed Rick Santorum maintaining his lead nationwide among likely Republican voters, topping his closest rival Mitt Romney by a margin of nine percentage points.

The poll from Quinnipiac University showed Santorum with the backing of 35% of registered Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, compared to 26% for Romney. The two other candidates in the race, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Rep. Ron Paul, were at 14% and 11%, respectively.

Fourteen percent said they didn't know who they were voting for or that the question didn't apply.

Broken down further, the poll showed Santorum's support was strongest among Republican men and evangelical Christians. Santorum led Romney 35% to 24% among men, and 45% to 19% among white evangelicals.

Santorum: 'I believe in good and evil'
2008: Santorum warns Satan attacking U.S.
Santorum: Don't vote for a rock star

"Sen. Rick Santorum's lead among Republican voters and GOP-leaning independents is built on the votes of Republican men, tea party supporters and white evangelical Christians," Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a statement accompanying the poll's release.

"Santorum is riding the momentum wave from his trifecta of victories in Missouri, Colorado and Minnesota, but so far this year momentum from one week has been a much-overhyped asset by the time the next round of voting comes along," Brown said.

When voters were just asked to choose between Santorum and Romney, the margin between the two candidates expanded. Santorum had the support of 50% of likely Republican voters, compared to 37% who went for Romney.

Most respondents, 54%, said it was not likely at all a candidate not currently in the race would wind up becoming the 2012 Republican presidential nominee

But if such a candidate emerged, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would be the most popular, with the support of 33% of likely Republican voters. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush were at 20% and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels stood at 15%.

Forty-eight percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said having a candidate not currently in the race become the nominee would be bad for the GOP, compared to 37% who said it would be good for the party.

The Quinnipiac University poll was taken by phone February 14-20 from 2,605 registered Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. The sampling error was plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT