Santorum leads in Romney's home turf of Michigan

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum arrives at a campaign rally Feb. 7, 2012, in Blaine, Minn. Getty Images

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum arrives at a campaign rally Feb. 7, 2012, in Blaine, Minn.
Getty Images

Riding a wave of momentum after sweeping three Republican presidential contests last week, Rick Santorum is now leading Mitt Romney in Michigan, according to a new poll.

Santorum leads among likely voters in the Michigan's February 28 primary, with 33 percent, according to a new survey from American Research Group. Romney wins 27 percent support, while Newt Gingrich garners 21 percent and Ron Paul takes 12 percent.

Among likely Republican primary voters who say they will definitely vote in the primary, 36 percent back Santorum, while 25 percent support Romney. Santorum's lead widens more dramatically among self-identified Republicans. The former Pennsylvania senator takes 42 percent of that group's support, while Gingrich takes 24 percent and Romney wins 18 percent.

The survey, with a four-point margin of error, was conducted February 11-12, a few days after Santorum swept the contests in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado. Before Santorum's hat trick, polls showed Romney leading in Michigan.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, speaking at the Detroit Economic Club Monday, said that he'll endorse a GOP candidate next week, the Associated Press reports. However, he wouldn't say which candidate he'll endorse.

The state should be friendly ground for the former Massachusetts governor. Romney was born and raised in Michigan, and his father was CEO of American Motors Corporation and then the state's governor. In the 2008 Republican presidential primary, Romney won Michigan, topping John McCain 39 percent to 30 percent.

Michigan and Arizona are the next two states to weigh in on the GOP contest, followed by Washington state. Those contests are quickly followed by "Super Tuesday" on March 6, when 10 states weigh in.

With Super Tuesday quickly approaching, the candidates will have less time to dedicate to individual states, and the race will become more nationalized. Among Republican voters nationally, Santorum is virtually tied with Romney, according to a new Pew poll. Conducted February 8-12, 30 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters favor Santorum while 28 percent favor Romney.

Sentiments could easily turn around before Super Tuesday -- Gingrich also experienced a surge of popularity in polls of GOP voters nationwide after winning the South Carolina primary, but he quickly fell behind again.

Still, as the GOP contest lingers on, some conservatives are getting anxious for the field to slim down, in order to avoid a brokered convention. The editors of the conservative magazine the National Review wrote on Monday that Gingrich should exit the race.

"It is not clear whether Gingrich remains in the race because he still believes he could become president next year or because he wants to avenge his wounded pride: an ambiguity that suggests the problem with him as a leader," they wrote.

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