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Rick Santorum Trails Mitt Romney In Pennsylvania, Poll Says

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If Rick Santorum is tying the fate of his presidential campaign to his performance in the upcoming primary in his native Pennsylvania, his candidacy may be in big trouble.

A new survey of Pennsylvania Republicans out by Public Policy Polling Wednesday night has the former senator trailing Mitt Romney in his home state 42 percent to 37 percent.

"The numbers represent a dramatic turnaround from when PPP polled the state a month ago. Romney's gained 17 points, going from 25 percent to 42 percent," the survey reads. "Meanwhile Santorum's dropped 6 points from 43 percent to 37 percent, for an overall swing of 23 points in the last four weeks."

Pennsylvania Republicans, it appears, still mostly like Santorum. But having had a front-row seat to his politics and campaigning skills, they don't think he has a chance to win. Only 24 percent of Republican respondents thought their former senator would "provide their best chance for a victory" against President Barack Obama.

The notion that Santorum has a shot at the Republican nomination even with a victory in Pennsylvania was already a bit far-fetched. A loss there would likely convince even the most passionate backer that the gig is up.

But the practical effect of poll numbers like these is greater then just providing a window into where the race currently stands. Santorum has a lot -- personally and professionally -- riding on his performance in Pennsylvania. And it's not unreasonable to see him feeling intense pressure to bow out of the contest out of concern that he'd suffer an embarrassing loss.

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