Public Policy Polling:
Momentum has swung strongly in Mitt Romney's direction among Washington Republicans over the last two weeks. He now leads in the state with 37% to 32% for Rick Santorum, 16% for Ron Paul, and 13% for Newt Gingrich. That represents a reversal from PPP's previous poll which found Santorum in the driver's seat with 38% to Romney's 27%. The large shift in Washington reflects what has happened in the race nationally over that period of time.
If Romney does end up winning Saturday night it will be a large Mormon vote that puts him over the top. We find that 14% of likely caucus goers are Mormons and 64% of them support Romney to 15% for Paul and 13% for Santorum. Romney actually trails Santorum 35-32 with non-Mormons. Other groups Romney is particularly strong with include seniors (44-31), men (37-28), and moderates (34-22).
In the places he's been successful Santorum has dominated the race with three core groups: Evangelicals, Tea Partiers, and those describing themselves as 'very conservative.' He's winning all those groups in Washington, but not by nearly the margin he needs to. He's only up 41-30 with Evangelicals, 41-34 with Tea Party identifiers, and 38-35 with those self labeling as 'very conservative.' In the states where Santorum's won his leads with those groups have been closer to the 25-30 point range.
There is still some hope for Santorum. Caucuses are unusually difficult to poll and although our polling of the ones in Colorado and Minnesota last month picked up that Santorum had momentum in the race, they didn't gauge the full extent of it. If he out performed his poll numbers by a similar margin on Saturday he could still pull out a win in Washington. There's also some evidence that his supporters are a little more likely to turn out. Among voters who say they will 'definitely' caucus on Saturday Romney's advantage is only 35-32. His overall advantage is larger because he's up 40-30 with those who will 'probably' caucus, but those folks may or may not end up showing.