Huffpost Politics
Jason Linkins Headshot

Rick Santorum's Home State Problems Continue To Mount

Posted: Updated:

By now, surely we've all learned to mistrust the large leads Rick Santorum has occasionally taken in the polls ahead of important state primaries, right? Weeks ahead of the contests in Michigan and Ohio, for instance, we watched as Santorum stepped out to double digit leads in the polls, only to see that advantage get slowly winnowed down by Mitt Romney's money machine.

Santorum's successes have thus far come from occasionally picking off states with a voter profile that's less favorable to Romney -- the latest being Louisiana. So a good way of looking at this is that Santorum keeps winning his "home" games, and keeps getting pipped at the post in his "away" games, and it's those "home" wins that are keeping him alive.

Bad news, then, for Santorum. According to Tom Fontane of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, this might be about to change, as Wednesday's Franklin And Marshall poll has the former Pennsylvania senator in a virtual tie with his chief rival in his home state of Pennsylvania:

The poll of 505 registered Republican voters, conducted March 20-25 in conjunction with the Tribune-Review and other media outlets, shows Santorum clinging to a small lead over Romney, 30 percent to 28 percent, within the poll's 4.2 percent margin of error.

That's a big change from February, when Santorum, once a U.S. senator from Penn Hills, held a commanding 15-percentage-point lead over Romney in the poll.

To say that Santorum must win Pennsylvania in April is something of an understatement. He obviously has to hold serve, as Romney and Newt Gingrich have done, in his home state. But more importantly, the Pennsylvania primary is being held the same day as contests in New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware -- and Romney is expected to win them all. As the tide seems to be against him in next week's contests in Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia, not taking Pennsylvania would mean Santorum would go the entire month of April without a win. He needs some sort of path to get him to the (slightly) more favorable contests of May in one piece.

Of course, this is but one poll result. But Santorum's home-state problems do not end there. As The Morning Call reported a week ago, Santorum's trouble with getting his slates of delegates in order have followed him home, thus endangering his chances at winning a large share of delegates a month before the primary happens.

State Sen. Jake Corman, R-Centre, one of Santorum's staunchest Pennsylvania supporters, said the campaign did make efforts to reach out to potential delegates to get them to commit to Santorum.

"The problem is, when you're running a low-budget campaign, you have to focus on the states in front of you, not 20 states in front of you," Corman said.

But it's particularly embarrassing for Santorum that in Pennsylvania, a state he represented in Congress for 16 years, he failed to utilize his connections to flush the ballots with old friends and supporters.

Santorum's Pennsylvania state director, Brian Nutt, is basically stuck hoping that the delegates who get selected will act honorably, telling the The Morning Call that "he hopes delegates will respect the wishes of the popular vote."

Well, if Santorum can't win the popular vote, those delegates are off the hook.

READ THE WHOLE THING:
Santorum slips in Pennsylvania, survey finds [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review]
Miscues costing Rick Santorum delegates [The Morning Call]

[Would you like to follow me on Twitter? Because why not?]

Around the Web

Santorum Loses Ground to Romney in Pennsylvania, Poll Finds

Poll: Santorum's Pennsylvania Lead Vanishes

 
  Obama Romney
Obama Romney
332 206
Obama leading
Obama won
Romney leading
Romney won
Popular Vote
33 out of 100 seats are up for election. 51 are needed for a majority.
Democrat leading
Democrat won
Holdover
Republican leading
Republican won
Democrats* Republicans
Current Senate 53 47
Seats gained or lost +2 -2
New Total 55 45
* Includes two independent senators expected to caucus with the Democrats: Angus King (Maine) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.).
All 435 seats are up for election. 218 are needed for a majority.
Democrat leading
Democrat won
Republican leading
Republican won
Democrats Republicans
Seats won 201 234
Click for Full Results
Register To Vote