Public Policy Polling reports that Rick Santorum has taken a large lead in Michigan ahead of that state's open Republican primary. He's at 39% to Romney's 24%. Ron Paul comes in at 12% and Gingrich's support is way down -- he's at 11%.
"Santorum's rise is attributable to two major factors: his own personal popularity (a stellar 67/23 favorability) and GOP voters increasingly souring on Gingrich. Santorum's becoming something closer and closer to a consensus conservative candidate as Gingrich bleeds support."
Santorum's support is strong with those who identify with the Tea Party, evangelicals, and the "very conservative."
"Santorum's benefiting from the open nature of Michigan's primary as well. He's only up by 12 points with actual Republican voters, but he has a 40-21 advantage with the Democrats and independents planning to vote that pushes his overall lead up to 15 points. Santorum is winning by a healthy margin in every region of the state except for Oakland County, where Romney has a 40-26 advantage, and the area around Lansing where Paul actually has an advantage at 30% to 27% for both Romney and Santorum."
The poll shows that voters are souring on Gingrich and only 38% have a favorable opinion of him while 47% don't. And they say negative campaigning doesn't work! His presence in the race helps Romney since most of his supporters would go to Santorum if he dropped out. In fact, Santorum's lead would jump to 21% if Gingrich left the race.
"Michigan is perceived as a state where Romney really has a home field advantage, but only 26% of primary voters actually consider him to be a Michigander while 62% do not. Only 39% have a favorable opinion of George Romney with a 46% plurality having no opinion about him. Romney really doesn't have some great reservoir of goodwill in Michigan to fall back on. Only 49% of voters have a favorable opinion of him to 39% with a negative one. That's down a net 28 points from our last poll of Michigan in July when he was at +38 (61/23).
"For all that, Santorum probably shouldn't get too comfortable. There is a lot of potential for fluidity in the Michigan race, with only 47% of voters saying they're strongly committed to their candidate while 53% are open to changing their minds in the next two weeks."
Good point. Gingrich was up in Florida after he won South Carolina, too.