Rick Santorum leads in Michigan polls

Another poll shows troubling news for Mitt Romney.

Rick Santorum is leading in Michigan’s Feb. 28 primary, although Romney is in striking distance, a new Detroit News poll finds.

The former Pennsylvania senator beats the ex-Massachusetts governor 34 percent to 30 percent. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich takes 12 percent of likely Republican primary voters and Rep. Ron Paul gets 9 percent. Only 12 percent of respondents described themselves as undecided.

Another poll done by Mitchell Research for MIRS, the Michigan Information & Research Service, showed Santorum at 34 percent to Romney’s 25 percent.

More voters believe Romney is a better leader than Santorum, 38 percent to 16 percent, and more likely to win the election, 42 percent to 18 percent. Yet overall, they prefer Santorum.

A loss in Michigan would be devastating for Romney.

The Boston-based candidate was born in Detroit. His father was the state’s governor, and before that an American Motors Co. executive.

In an editorial endorsing him Thursday, Gov. Rick Snyder (R) called Romney a “favorite son” who understands the challenges confronting Michigan as few Americans do.

But Romney has consistently had trouble connecting with less wealthy voters, and his home-state advantage does not seem to making much of a difference.

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.

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