Santorum could take two of three today

Saying it has the potential to be “the most significant day in the Republican race yet,” Public Policy Polling Director Tom Jensen said late Monday night that former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is poised to win in Minnesota and Missouri tonight, while possibly taking second in Colorado.

“Missouri looks like a probable win for Santorum. He’s at 45% there to 32% for Mitt Romney and 19% for Paul,” Jensen said. “Minnesota provides an opportunity for a win as well. Currently he has a small advantage with 33% to 24% for Romney, 22% for Newt Gingrich, and 20% for Ron Paul. And Santorum should get a second place finish in Colorado, where Romney appears to be the likely winner. The standings there are Romney at 37%, Santorum at 27%, Gingrich at 21%, and Paul at 13%.”

A potential reason for Santorum’s sudden popularity is that he has largely stood aside–or focused on President Obama–while Romney and Gingrich have attacked each other relentlessly over the past few weeks.

“Santorum’s personal popularity is the main reason for his sudden reemergence as a relevant player in the GOP race,” wrote Jensen in an email. In all 3 of these states his favorability is over 70%- 74/17 in Minnesota, 72/17 in Missouri, and 71/19 in Colorado. “He’s far better liked than his main opponents- Romney’s favorability is 47-60% in those states and Gingrich’s is 47-48%. While Romney and Gingrich have hammered each other in recent weeks Santorum’s been largely left alone and he’s benefiting from that now,” Jensen said.

“… it appears right leaning Republican voters are shifting toward Santorum as their primary alternative to Romney. If Santorum does pick up two wins and a 2nd place finish tomorrow that trend is likely to be accelerated,” he said.

Still, according to PPP polling, roughly a third of the voters in these three states say they have not completely made up their minds yet, which could make tonight all about the campaigns getting the right people to the caucuses and getting them to find and convince the undecided.

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About the Author

Scot Kersgaard

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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