PPP: Santorum 38%, Romney 23%

A "severe" case of rhinitis...

Romney’s star has finally faded. After two months of claiming the “base” has been locked up, the twin disasters of multiple poor showings in state primary contests plus a train wreck of a speech at CPAC is pushing voters in droves to former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum:

Part of the reason for Santorum’s surge is his own high level of popularity. 64% of voters see him favorably to only 22% with a negative one. But the other, and maybe more important, reason is that Republicans are significantly souring on both Romney and Gingrich. Romney’s favorability is barely above water at 44/43, representing a 23 point net decline from our December national poll when he was +24 (55/31). Gingrich has fallen even further. A 44% plurality of GOP voters now hold a negative opinion of him to only 42% with a positive one. That’s a 34 point drop from 2 months ago when he was at +32 (60/28).

The GOP base is rallying against “severe conservatism” — though whether or not Santorum’s vision of conservatism will remain something Republicans can rally around remains to be seen.

One clear advantage for Santorum right now?  Obama’s Chavez-style war against the Catholic Church is pushing Catholics both in opposition to Obama and towards a candidate whose unflagging loyalty to Catholic principles is what Santorum built his reputation upon.

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