Romney Has Big Lead in Colorado, Tied in Minnesota
Tomorrow two more states, Colorado and Minnesota, are holding their Republican Presidential primary caucuses. In both states Mitt Romney is in relatively good shape according PPP, the only company that has done recent polling in the two states. In Colorado, Romney holds a big lead, while in Minnesota he barely trails Rick Santorum by two points. From PPP:
In Colorado Mitt Romney looks primed for another big Western win to match his one in Nevada. He leads with 40% there to 26% for Rick Santorum, 18% for Gingrich, and 12% for Ron Paul.
Minnesota looks like a toss up with any of the four candidates having some shot at winning. Santorum holds a small edge there with 29% to 27% for Romney, 22% for Gingrich, and 19% for Paul.
What both states have in common is that Gingrich has fallen precipitously since our last polls in them. In Colorado Gingrich was in first place with a 19 point lead in early December. His support has declined 19 points since then and his net favorability has dropped 33 points from +41 (64/23) to only +8 (49/41). Gingrich has had a similarly large decline in Minnesota, but there it’s much more abrupt. We polled the state only two weeks ago but in that time he’s dropped 14 points from 36% to 22%, and his favorability has [sic] 26 points from +34 (59/25) to +8 (47/39). That after glow from South Carolina has worn off real fast.
In addition to these two states Missouri is technically holding a purely “beauty contest” primary. It is the caucus in March that is the actual contest where delegates get decided. Newt Gingrich isn’t on the primary ballot in Missouri for this reason.
Tomorrow is shaping up to be a good night for both the Santorum campaign and the Romney campaign. Santorum could win in Minnesota, and at the very least he will likely outperform Newt Gingrich in all three states. This could help Santorum make the case to donors and voters that he, not Gingrich, is the best Romney alternative.
For Romney it should be a good night because he is almost guaranteed another large win in Colorado and could potentially also win Minnesota. In addition a modestly strong showing by Santorum will give Santorum a reason to stay in the race. This will mean both Santorum and Gingrich will likely continue to run until at least Super Tuesday. This will help prevent the anti-Romney forces from lining up behind a single alternative. The longer the field remains divided the better things probably are for Romney.