Rick Santorum’s image has taken a beating over the past month over the grueling Republican presidential campaign, but remains the stronger of the two leading contenders in the Rust Belt, according to a new Purple Poll of 12 swing states.
In February, when he began his surge as the chief rival to frontrunner Mitt Romney, likely voters in the purple states had a five-point net negative view of Santorum (38 percent favorable to 43 percent unfavorable). Now, a majority (53%) has an unfavorable view of Santorum, compared to 31% that see him favorability - a net negative swing of 17 points.
That was the good news. Independents in these crucial states have an even worse opinion of Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator known as a culture warrior: 57 percent unfavorable, versus 26 percent favorable.
Romney’s image has improved over the last month – 29% now have a favorable view, up from 27 percent. Voters an unfavorable view of the former Massachusetts governor ticked down by a point to 56 percent.
“While these numbers remain problematic, they could signal that (Romney) has reached a low point from which he will turn around as the primary season winds down,” according to the polling memo..
The survey, conducted monthly by Purple Strategies, a bipartisan strategic public affairs firm based in Alexandria, Va., measures opinions in New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania; Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin; Florida, North Carolina and Virginia; Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico.
Pollsters conducted an automated telephone survey of 1, 424 voters in the dozen states from March 16 through 19. Results are subject to a sampling-error margin of plus or minus 2 percent.