Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney won Saturday’s Washington state caucuses and has surged into a dead heat with Rick Santorum in the Ohio primary, setting up a cliffhanger race tomorrow, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released yesterday.
The former Massachusetts governor and the former US senator from Pennsylvania are tied with 32 percent support from likely voters in the Ohio Republican primary, the most important of the 10 state nominating contests in tomorrow’s “Super Tuesday.”
After his victory in Washington state, Romney is gaining momentum going after trailing Santorum in recent polls in Ohio.
“This race could really go either way between now and Tuesday,” Ipsos pollster Chris Jackson said. “If Mitt Romney is able to close this out and win this race, that gives him a leg up in going all the way to the convention and winning the Republican nomination.”
Romney’s easy victory in Washington marked his fourth victory in a row after prevailing in Michigan, Arizona and Wyoming last week.
Ohio is a traditional bellwether state that could play a key role in deciding which Republican candidate challenges US President Barack Obama in November’s general election.
The poll showed Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the US House of Representatives, with 17 percent support, and US Representative Ron Paul from Texas with 6 percent support.
Asked whom they would back in a two-man race, 44 percent of respondents in the online survey said they would support Romney, while 43 percent said they would support Santorum.
The poll showed voters were responding to the two candidates for different reasons.
Among those who went with Romney, 44 percent said they backed him because they believed he had a better chance at beating Obama in November, while 37 percent said their main reason for choosing him was his ability to improve the still-tepid economy.
Santorum, a strict conservative on social issues such as abortion and gay rights, attracted voters who were interested in his principles. Of the respondents who supported him, 56 percent said they did so because he shared their values and beliefs.
The Ohio poll, conducted between Thursday and Saturday, included a sample of 917 likely voters in the Republican primary election.