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Poll: Romney Has Small Lead in Tight Arizona Race Poll: Romney Has Small Lead in Tight Arizona Race

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

Poll: Romney Has Small Lead in Tight Arizona Race

Mitt Romney speaks at a town hall meeting Tuesday at Eagle Manufacturing Corporation in Shelby Township, Mich.(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

photo of Steven Shepard
February 21, 2012

Mitt Romney holds a slim lead over Rick Santorum in Arizona, one week before the Grand Canyon State's Republican presidential primary, according to a new CNN/Time/ORC poll released on Tuesday.

Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, leads Santorum, 36 percent to 32 percent, which is inside the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is third, with 18 percent, followed by Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, with 6 percent. Seven percent of likely voters said they were undecided or preferred none of the candidates.

The poll reveals little evidence of any gender gap: Romney leads among men by 3 percentage points, and among women by 5 points. As far as income status, Romney leads by 8 points among those voters making less than $50,000 a year, and by 4 percentage points among those making $50,000 a year or more. While Romney has actually performed better among more-affluent voters in entrance and exit polls conducted during the nominating process thus far, the sample sizes for these subgroups in the poll are quite small, and the difference in responses by income group is not significant.

 

Romney also leads by 2 percentage points among voters without a college degree, and by 7 points among those who do have a degree -- an insignificant disparity as well.

The poll does show some differences in support for Romney and Santorum. Santorum holds a slight lead among tea party supporters, 35 percent to 32 percent, while Romney leads by 15 percentage points among those likely primary voters who say they oppose the tea party or are neutral.

Santorum also runs stronger among born-again or evangelical Christian voters, leading Romney among that group, 37 percent to 28 percent. Among those who say they are not evangelical Christians, Romney leads, 42 percent to 30 percent. In the 2008 Republican primary, 38 percent of the electorate was comprised of born-again Christians, while 62 percent were non-evangelical, according to exit polls.

Romney leads Santorum by 6 percentage points in Maricopa County, the state's main population center. In the rest of the state, the two candidates were tied.

The race remains someone unsettled: 42 percent of voters are undecided or say it is possible they would change their mind before next Tuesday's primary, while 58 percent of likely voters will definitely support their preferred candidate.

The poll was conducted Feb. 17-20, surveying 467 registered Republicans who said they were likely to vote in the primary.

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