From Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, More Bad News for Rick Santorum

Santorum's lead in Pennsylvania, his home state, has evaporated.

By SHARE

Presidential candidate Rick Santorum has gotten some more bad news—his support in his home state of Pennsylvania has tanked and he is now in a statistical tie there with Mitt Romney.

This was just one of a series of setbacks for Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania, in the past week. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Santorum's major rival as the conservative alternative to front-runner Romney, announced that he is scaling back his campaign but won't drop out.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Rick Santorum.]

Santorum also got some negative headlines when the weary and frustrated candidate lost his temper and used profanity in a confrontation with a New York Times reporter.

Santorum has been campaigning hard in Wisconsin, which holds a crucial primary on Tuesday, but he has been fading in the polls behind Romney. The latest survey, conducted by NBC News and Marist College and released Friday morning, has Romney in the lead in Wisconsin with 40 percent, Santorum with 33, Texas Rep. Ron Paul with 11, and Gingrich with 8.

Worst of all, a new Franklin & Marshall College poll of likely Republican voters in Pennsylvania indicates a statistical dead heat, with Santorum at 30 percent and Romney at 28. The primary is April 24, with 71 delegates at stake. This gives Romney about a month to use his huge campaign treasury to overwhelm Santorum with negative television ads, as he has done in other states.

A month ago, the Franklin & Marshall poll had Santorum far ahead of Romney in Pennsylvania, 45 percent to 16 percent.

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One reason that Romney has closed the gap is because he is doing better in heavily populated urban areas that contain large numbers of moderate voters, such as Philadelphia, where Santorum's hard-line conservatism is not as popular as it is in rural areas and among evangelical Christians.

Santorum overwhelmingly lost his Senate re-election bid in Pennsylvania in 2006.

If Santorum can't win his home state's primary, it would be a devastating blow to his presidential campaign.

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