The latest Public Policy Polling (D) survey of Pennsylvania shows Rick Santorum is not only the runaway favorite to win his home state’s Republican presidential primary but also the most formidable GOP candidate in hypothetical match-ups with President Barack Obama.
Among Republican primary voters in the Keystone State, Santorum claims the support of 43 percent of respondents. Mitt Romney is a distant second with 25 percent, while neither Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul top 15 percent.
When the survey was opened up to include all registered voters in the state, the president holds a mere two-point advantage over Santorum, who represented Pennsylvania as both a congressman and United States senator. Obama enjoys a larger lead over Romney — widely considered to be the frontrunner for the GOP nomination — 49 percent to 42 percent, which represents an encouraging development for the President in a state that he almost certainly needs to win in November.
Obama’s 7 point lead over Romney in Pennsylvania is a shift from last year when we twice found them tied, once found Romney ahead by a point, and once found Obama ahead by three. In addition to Obama’s approval numbers improving, Romney’s image has taken a hit in the state over the last 3 months. His favorability numbers were already bad at 32/51, but now they’re worse at 30/60. Obama’s turned a 2 point deficit against Romney with independents into a 51/38 lead.
The TPM Poll Average shows the president with a comparable advantage in Pennsylvania, where Obama has maintained a roughly six-point lead over the former Massachusetts governor since early January.