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Behind the Numbers
Posted at 07:00 AM ET, 01/10/2012

Romney’s favorable ratings top Paul, Santorum among GOP

Mitt Romney’s stubborn hold on the mantle of front-runner for the GOP nomination is due in part to his solid favorable ratings among Republicans, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News national poll.

Rick Santorum and Ron Paul are the latest challengers attempting to unseat Romney, but they lack his level of appeal among the party’s base. Santorum’s problem is still limited visibility; Paul’s challenge is more basic: a more damaging level of unfavorable views.

Fully 61 percent of Republicans view Romney favorably while just 18 percent see him unfavorably in the new poll. The former Massachusetts governor’s appeal among the GOP is at its highest point since March. Since November, there’s been a significant drop in Romney’s unfavorable ratings, from 29 to 18 percent.


Romney has a wide advantage in likability over his chief rivals among Republicans. Paul draws nearly as many negative as positive ratings, 40 percent favorable and 39 percent unfavorable. Paul was making a little bit of headway in his favorable ratings as recently as mid-December; he held a slight 43 to 35 percent favorable-unfavorable edge among the GOP supporters.

Santorum finds favor with just under half of Republicans. After making a big splash by finishing only eight votes shy of Romney in Iowa, he matches Romney in the relatively low level of unfavorable ratings at 18 percent. But Santorum needs to raise his profile quickly in his base. A third of Republicans are unable to rate him, 12 points higher than for Romney or Paul.

Romney’s appeal also extends beyond Republicans to all conservatives as well as independents in a way the others do not. A slim 52 percent majority of conservatives rate Romney favorably, higher than the 42 percent for Santorum and 37 percent for Paul.

Paul won a big victory among independents who voted in the Iowa Republican caucuses. But independents nationally are less keen on the Texas congressman. One in three independents views him favorably, nearly four in 10 sees him unfavorably.

The intensity of Paul’s supporters has clearly sustained him in Iowa and elsewhere. But here, fewer than one in 10 Republicans and conservatives say they have “strongly favorable” impressions of Paul. Romney and Santorum do about twice as well among Republicans and conservatives in this key measure of intensity.

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By  |  07:00 AM ET, 01/10/2012

Categories:  GOP nomination, Republican Party

 
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