Mitt Romney’s campaign is still justifiably worried about winning Michigan in today’s primary, as it should be.
But the bad news is that, even if his team can pull it out tonight, next week’s marquee contest in Michigan’s neighbor-to-the-south is looking like an uphill battle.
A University of Cincinnati poll out today shows Romney trailing Rick Santorum by double digits in Ohio, whose March 6 primary has quickly become the highest-profile matchup of Super Tuesday.
The poll puts Santorum at 37 percent and Romney at 26 percent. They are followed by Newt Gingrich at 16 percent and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) at 11 percent.
Romney appears to be suffering from much the same problem in Ohio as he did in Michigan, with conservative tea party supporters and evangelicals voters favoring Santorum by a large amount. The two states feature pretty similar constituencies, demographically speaking.
The picture is slightly bleaker for Romney than in another Ohio poll released this week by Quinnipiac University. That poll had him trailing Santorum 36 percent to 29 percent.
But the poll showed him with similar deficits among tea partiers and evangelicals.
In the Q poll, Santorum’s supporters were also more likely to stick with their candidate (57 percent) than Romney’s supporters (49 percent), suggesting his lead may be just as tough as it was in Michigan to overcome.
Ohio is considered a key state next week because it is a swing state in the general election. Romney and a super PAC supporting his campaign have already spent about $2 million on ads in the Buckeye State, compared to about a half million dollars by Santorum and his top super PAC. No other Super Tuesday state comes close in ad spending so far.
A win in Michigan tonight could give Romney a bump, of course, but a loss would likely make his task in Ohio even more difficult.