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Who is stronger against Obama: Santorum or Romney?
Rick Santorum has overtaken Mitt Romney in several GOP primary polls — but skeptics still aren't sold on the Pennsylvanian's ability to topple Obama in November
The stakes are rising for rival GOP presidential frontrunners Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney
The stakes are rising for rival GOP presidential frontrunners Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney
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or months, Mitt Romney has insisted to Republican voters that he's the candidate best equipped to beat President Obama in the fall. The polls backed him up, too, says Public Policy Polling's Tom Jensen, "at least until now." This week, a series of surveys have shown Rick Santorum catching up with Romney, or even passing him, in national and statewide polls of the Republican field. And for the first time, a new survey from PPP finds that Santorum performs slightly better against Obama than Romney does. Which of the GOP's two frontrunners actually has the best shot at the White House?

Santorum edges out Romney: The flurry of new polls "provide solid proof that Santorum and Romney are now in a statistical dead heat" for the GOP nomination, says Jonathan Tobin at Commentary. And after Romney's bruising battle with Newt Gingrich and a series of devastating gaffes, Mitt is losing his "strongest argument for the nomination" — electability — because he's "losing support among the independents who made him more electable" against Obama in the first place. Suddenly, the well-liked Santorum is arguably the stronger candidate.
"New polls give more bad news for Romney"

Romney is still a much safer bet: I'm sticking with the conventional wisdom, says John Cassidy at The New Yorker: "If Santorum were to be nominated, the odds are that Obama would win in a landslide." Romney has his flaws, but "Santorum is essentially an ultra-right-wing protest candidate." Women in particular don't trust him on social issues, and even in this political climate, Americans won't elect "a religious zealot and armchair militarist of Santorum's stripe." Once he faces Romney's attacks and the media's scrutiny, Santorum's numbers should wilt.
"The Santorum surge: How seriously should we take it?"

They're almost evenly matched: "If I were a Republican, I'd still bet on Romney," but it's a toss-up, says Jonathan Chait at New York. In the end, it's a question of whose brand of swing voters are more important. If you think the general election will be decided by "economically conservative, socially liberal swing voters," Romney's your man. But if it's a contest for Reagan Democrats, the "economically populist and socially conservative" Santorum cleans up. And remember, if the economy improves, neither Republican has a great shot at beating Obama.
"Is Romney more electable than Santorum?"

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