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Posted at 12:59 PM ET, 03/02/2012

Is Rick Santorum losing the middle class?

Have former senator Rick Santorum’s (R-Pa.) efforts to woo middle-class voters backfired?


Former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.). (Eric Gay/Associated Press)
That’s one interpretation of a new Quinnipiac Poll released Friday morning.

The survey shows Santorum taking 35 percent to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s 31 percent among likely Ohio Republican primary voters. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) takes 17 percent and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) takes 12 percent in the survey, which had a margin of error of 4.3 percentage points.

Santorum and Romney are in a statistical tie in the latest survey; a previous Quinnipiac poll, released Feb. 27, showed Santorum taking 36 percent to Romney’s 29 percent.

While the latest survey shows Romney cutting into Santorum’s lead, it’s the cross-tabs of the poll that should be of the greatest concern to Santorum.

In the previous survey, Santorum held a 19-point lead over Romney when it came to voters with an annual household income of $30,000 to $50,000: Santorum took 41 percent to Romney’s 22 percent. The gap was the widest between the two candidates among any income group.

But in the latest poll, Santorum’s lead among those middle-income voters has narrowed to just five points – a 14-point shift. The former Pennsylvania senator now takes 34 percent among those with incomes of $30,000 to $50,000, compared to 29 percent for Romney.

The drop in support for Santorum among middle-class voters is even more striking when one compares his current standing to where he stood in an earlier Quinnipiac Poll released Feb. 15.

In that poll, Santorum took 50 percent of voters with annual household incomes of $30,000 to $50,000 – the highest amount of support for any candidate among any income group. Romney took only 21 percent among those voters.

In short, Santorum’s support among middle-class voters in Ohio has dropped 16 percentage points over the past two weeks, and his lead over Romney among those voters has narrowed from 29 points to five.

Could it be that Santorum’s more-provocative campaign-trail comments have ended up working against him? Or is it that Romney is succeeding in making his case to middle-class voters? The comments section awaits!

By  |  12:59 PM ET, 03/02/2012

 
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