Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney tied in new Ohio poll

at 09:53 AM ET, 03/04/2012

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney are in a statistical dead heat in the critical Ohio presidential primary, according to a new NBC/Marist poll.

Santorum takes 34 percent while Romney lags just two points behind at 32 percent. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich receives 15 percent support while Texas Rep. Ron Paul clocks in at 13 percent.


Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks at a Lincoln Day dinner, Saturday, March 3, 2012, in Lima, Ohio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Santorum wins 36 percent to 33 percent for Romney among self-identified Republicans while Santorum sits at 31 percent and Romney at 30 percent among independents.

Romney continues to benefit from a sense of inevitability. Seven in ten likely Ohio Republican primary voters say that the former Massachusetts governor will be the GOP nominee in the fall while just 13 percent say the same of Santorum.

The NBC/Marist survey is the latest poll to show a very tight race between Santorum and Romney in Ohio, which is one of 10 states set to vote on Tuesday.

It is regarded as the most critical battleground on Super Tuesday due to its status as a swing state in the general election. The NBC/Marist poll, however, shows President Obama with a lead over any of his possible Republican rivals in the Buckeye State.

Obama holds a 50 percent to 38 percent edge over Romney and leads Santorum 50 percent to 36 percent. Gingrich trails Obama by 15 points. Interestingly, Paul gives Obama the toughest race of any of the Republican quartet although he trails the incumbent 48 percent to 38 percent.

Both Santorum and Romney — as well as their aligned super PACs — are spending heavily in Ohio on television ads. In the last week alone Romney and his Restore Our Future super PAC have dropped $2 million in the state; Santorum and his Red, White & Blue Fund have spent $1.5 million.

 
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