Public Policy Polling:
Rick Santorum could be headed for a big day in today's contests in Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri. Missouri looks like a probable win for Santorum. He's at 45% there to 32% for Mitt Romney and 19% for Paul. Minnesota provides an opportunity for a win as well. Currently he has a small advantage with 33% to 24% for Romney, 22% for Newt Gingrich, and 20% for Ron Paul. And Santorum should get a second place finish in Colorado, where Romney appears to be the likely winner. The standings there are Romney at 37%, Santorum at 27%, Gingrich at 21%, and Paul at 13%.
Santorum's personal popularity is the main reason for his sudden reemergence as a relevant player in the GOP race. In all 3 of these states his favorability is over 70%- 74/17 in Minnesota, 72/17 in Missouri, and 71/19 in Colorado. He's far better liked than his main opponents- Romney's favorability is 47-60% in those states and Gingrich's is 47-48%. While Romney and Gingrich have hammered each other in recents weeks Santorum's been largely left alone and he's benefiting from that now.
There are three groups Santorum's winning in all three of these states: Tea Partiers, Evangelicals, and those describing themselves as 'very conservative.' Those were groups that had previously been in Gingrich's column, but it appears right leaning Republican voters are shifting toward Santorum as their primary alternative to Romney. If Santorum does pick up 2 wins and a 2nd place finish tomorrow that trend is likely to be accelerated.
The race in these three states is unusually volatile. 38% of voters in Missouri, 35% in Minnesota, and 31% in Colorado say that they're still open to changing their votes. If there's a good piece of news for Romney in this polling it's that his supporters are more firmly committed than Santorum's in all three states. He has a firmer base of support he can rely on to show up for him tomorrow than Santorum does.
Tuesday has the potential to be the most significant day in the Republican race yet.