Global Politics

VIDEO: Polls show Romney back on top in Michigan, but Santorum's appeal among women is rising

RTR2YAB1_329598170.jpg

U.S. Republican presidential candidates former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum and former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney laugh as they shake hands at the conclusion of the Republican presidential candidates debate in Mesa, Ariz., Feb. 22, 2012. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Reut

The latest polling out of Michigan has former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney back on top with former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum close behind.

The polls represent a complete 360 from about two weeks ago, with Santorum having surged out to a 9-point lead, in the RealClearPolitics.com average of polling. Romney now enjoys an average lead of 1.6 percent. The most recent polls, which tend to better reflect the current moods of voters, give Romney a 3-to-6 percent lead. 

The latest Rasmussen Reports poll shows Romney with a 6-point lead; the previous Rasmussen poll released just four days ago had Santorum with a 4-point lead.

Romney, Santorum in Dead Heat for Mich. Primary
US News Video by NewsLook

Statistician and political analyst Nate Silver, writing for The New York Times, gives Romney 2:1 odds of winning the Michigan primary on Tuesday.

"The FiveThirtyEight forecast model now projects a win for Mr. Romney by about four points in Michigan, roughly bisecting the Rasmussen Reports and Mitchell Research polls. Although that is inherently a fairly small margin, it is more meaningful given that there are just four full days of campaigning until Michigan votes," he wrote.

Silver attributed Santorum's decline to his "middling" performance in debates and focus on his statements about social issues.

The results in Arizona are also looking bleak for Santorum — though Arizona, with its large Mormon population — has long been viewed as a state very favorable to Romney. 

RealClearPolitics' polling average in Arizona has Romney enjoying a more than 9-point lead over Santorum in that state. Three of the four most recent polls have that lead in double-digits, with an NBCNews/Marist poll pushing that lead as high as 16 points.

All the news in the polls, though, isn't bad for Santorum. A new poll from the Washington Post shows him enjoying increased support among Republican women — a constituency that could be easily alienated by Santorum's comments on social issues but who have instead drawn even more in his favor.

"Voters and political strategists alike say Santorum’s rise has less to do with his views on these issues than on his ability to relate to the daily struggles of the middle class," the Post wrote.

In the poll, 61 percent of Republican women viewed Romney favorably, while 57 percent had a favorable view of Santorum, a nearly 10 point increase, while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's favorability rating with Republican women has fallen from a high of about 65 percent in December down to 37 percent in the latest poll.

That said, Santorum continues to struggle with Democratic and Independent women, the latter of which is an important group for any candidate who wants to win in a general election.