Mitt Romney is poised for a big victory Tuesday in Arizona's Republican presidential preference election, a new poll suggests.
Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, is leading former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania 43 percent to 26 percent, according to the automated telephone survey of 515 likely GOP votersconducted Sunday by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm based in North Carolina. Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich was at 18 percent while U.S. Rep. Ron Paul is at 11 percent. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.3 percent.
The poll also asked voters if they watch the GOP presidential debate in Mesa last Wednesday: 51 percent said they did, while 49 percent said they didn't. At the debate, Romney delivered a solid performance while Santorum stumbled while defending past spending and education votes that he know acknowledges were mistakes. The debate appears to have contributed to Santorum's faltering position in Arizona.
"You can make a fair argument that Romney's already won the Arizona primary," Tom Jensen, PPP's director, wrote in his blog analysis of the poll's results. "Almost half of those planning to vote have already cast their ballots, and Romney has a 48-25 advantage over Santorum with those folks. That lead makes it nearly impossible for Santorum to make up the difference on election day, and Romney has a 39-27 advantage with those planning to vote on Tuesday anyway."