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Has Rick Santorum finally become a frontrunner?
The GOP presidential hopeful surges into his first lead in a national poll. How scared should Mitt Romney be?
 
In a new national PPP survey, Rick Santorum leads Mitt Romney 38 percent to 23 percent.
In a new national PPP survey, Rick Santorum leads Mitt Romney 38 percent to 23 percent.
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

For the first time, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has taken a lead in a national poll. Buoyed by his victories last week in Missouri, Minnesota, and Colorado, Santorum surged 15 points ahead of longtime frontrunner Mitt Romney — 38 percent to 23 percent — according to Democratic firm Public Policy Polling. Romney, despite his weekend wins in the CPAC straw poll and Maine caucuses, is "barely above water" nationally, with only 44 percent of GOP voters seeing him favorably, compared with 43 percent who view him negatively. Have Romney's stubborn problems with the conservative base and Santorum's late surge given the race yet another frontrunner?

Yes. Santorum's surge is for real: Romney has a "Santorum problem that can't be easily swept aside," says Ros Krasny at Reuters. Mitt had plenty of bludgeons to use against Newt Gingrich, "scoring a big hit with ads focused on Gingrich's ethics violations in Congress." It won't be nearly as easy to attack the squeaky-clean Pennsylvanian. And while Santorum's social conservatism might "land him in trouble in a larger, more diverse electorate," it's gold in the primaries, which are dominated by conservative GOP voters.
"Romney's Santorum problem: No easy targets"

Santorum is no match for the Romney juggernaut: Santorum might really stand a chance if Newt Gingrich dropped out, says Steve Benen at The Maddow Blog. PPP shows Santorum crushing Romney in a hypothetical one-on-one primary race. But Newt will surely stay in the race, "which will divide the anti-Romney vote" and give Romney time to use his huge fund-raising advantage to take down Santorum with the same kind of "onslaught" he used on Gingrich.
"The Santorum surge"

Michigan will decide whether Santorum is a threat: The national poll is interesting, says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air, but it's the Michigan surveys that Romney should really be worrying about. A new poll shows Santorum leading Romney in the state — where Romney's father was a popular governor — just two weeks ahead of its primary. If that poll's not a fluke, Romney's in trouble, because "a Michigan loss would seriously damage Romney’s electability argument" and seal Santorum's "momentum heading into Super Tuesday" on March 6.
"ARG poll shows Santorum up 6 over Romney in Michigan"

 

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