Posted Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012, at 11:34 AM
Two polls, two trends, confirming the same factoid: Mitt Romney has clawed back into contention in Michigan's primary. The Public Policy Polling trend, from Febuary 10-12 to February 17-19:
Rick Santorum - 37% (-2)
Mitt Romney - 33% (+9)
Ron Paul - 15% (+3)
Newt Gingrich - 10% (-1)
And the Mitchell/Rosetta Stone poll for MIRS:
Mitt Romney - 32% (+7)
Rick Santorum - 30% (-4)
Newt Gingrich - 9% (+4)
Ron Paul - 7% (-4)
All that in one week. What happened? Romney was outspending Santorum on the air by better than 20-1. He's now outspending him, via his allies, around 3-1. But Santorum's still better-liked than Romney, with more voters saying Santorum's shares their values, and more saying they'd have a beer with the guy whose religion actually allows him to drink (42-29). Is there anything cutting against Santorum at all?
Even in a Republican primary, this new-old discussion of whether providers should be able to deny coverage for birth control is a loser. Romney is not emphasizing it on the trail at all. But up until last week, Santorum had successfully branded himself as a blue collar-friendly economic conservative who happened to be right on social issues. He'd been rewarded with support from Democrats and independents. That support has dipped slightly.