Democratic Pollster Says Santorum's "Blue Collar Politics" Make Him More Competitive Than Romney

Romney is alienating Independents with his off-the-cuff comments, while Santorum appears grounded.

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A Politico/ George Washington University poll released Monday reveals former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney fares better against President Barack Obama than former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. But Democratic Pollster Celinda Lake admits, as time goes on, that number could change to show Santorum's more difficult to defeat in the general election.

  "Santorum does have a certain appeal in terms of blue collar politics, and he is able to convey that," Lake says. "It is interesting because Santorum is less prone to make mistakes, but more prone to just have bizarre views." [See a collection of political cartoons on the economy.]

Some voters find Santorum's social agenda alarming, but in the rash of recent "silver foot in the mouth moments," Lake says Romney's playing into the notion that he can't represent the "99 percent".

Whether he's betting Rick Perry $10,000, telling supporters his wife drives a couple of Cadillacs or sharing with reporters that a few of his close friends own NASCAR teams, Romney epitomizes the "out of touch" candidate the Obama campaign has planned to defeat in November, Lake says.

The Politico/ George Washington University poll shows that among independent voters, who will likely determine the outcome of the 2012 election, 52 percent view Romney unfavorably. [See pictures of Mitt Romney]

"We have never seen a challenger with this high of negatives beat that incumbent. He is almost 20 point net negative with Independent voters, and that obviously has to be a concern," Lake says. "Democrats must also feel that it is nice to run against someone who so vividly illustrates the central themes working for us... Romney, every single day or rather every single week, says something that reinforces that thematic, even when the guy is trying to have a common touch. It's the gift that keeps on giving."

Lake admits there is another candidate who would be easier to defeat than Romney.

"We would prefer Newt Gingrich," Lake says. "That's our candidate for the Republican party."

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