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Pew: Romney Regains Lead Over Santorum, but Falls Further Behind Obama Pew: Romney Regains Lead Over Santorum, but Falls Further Behind Obama

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The Trail: 2012 Presidential News from the Field / Campaign 2012

Pew: Romney Regains Lead Over Santorum, but Falls Further Behind Obama

Obama's job-approval rating rises, and his personal favorability is twice that of his rivals.

Mitt Romney campaigns in Missouri on Tuesday.(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

photo of Jill Lawrence
March 14, 2012

Mitt Romney has regained a significant national lead over Rick Santorum in the Republican presidential nomination race, according to a new Pew Research Center poll. At the same time, however, the poll found that Romney has fallen further behind President Obama in a hypothetical matchup, and Obama's approval rating has risen to 50 percent for the first time since last May after the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, led Santorum 33 percent to 24 percent in the national poll conducted last Wednesday through Sunday. That was a stark turnaround from a month earlier, when Santorum--a former senator from Pennsylvania--led Romney, 30 percent to 28 percent.

In the matchup against Obama, Romney's 8-point deficit in February swelled to 12 points in March, with Obama leading 54 percent to 42 percent. Romney still did better than Santorum, who trailed Obama by 18 points, 57 percent to 39 percent.

 

A wave of polls released this week offers conflicting pictures of how Obama and his would-be rivals are doing. Pew, Gallup, and a Bloomberg poll suggest improving numbers for Obama, while CBS News/New York Times and ABC News/Washington Post polls suggest the opposite.

Obama's 50 percent approval rating in the Pew poll was significantly higher than his 41 percent disapproval rating, a reversal from January when 44 percent approved and 48 disapproved of his job performance. The new poll also found that approval for his handling of the economy has risen from 35 percent last November to 43 percent now, although 53 percent still disapprove.

When it comes to personal image, Pew finds Obama much better off than the two leading GOP contenders: 56 percent say they have a favorable impression of him, versus 29 percent for Romney and 27 percent for Santorum. The parties fare similarly, with 49 percent saying they have a favorable impression of the Democratic Party compared with just 36 percent who say that of the GOP.

The Pew poll of 1,503 adults, including 1,188 registered voters and 538 GOP or GOP-leaning voters, was conducted March 7-11. The margin of error ranged from plus or minus 3 percentage points for adults to plus or minus 5 percentage points for Republicans asked about their nomination race.

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