Pre-Debate Poll: Romney Leads in Arizona, Dead Heat in Michigan

Posted: Feb 22, 2012 2:03 PM

I posted an extensive analysis of recent polling trends yesterday, so I'll keep this one relatively short.  A new NBC/Marist poll shows Mitt Romney leading comfortably in Arizona ahead of tonight's debate ("the Ash Clash?"), while Michigan remains a jump ball:

In Michigan – which has turned into a make-or-break contest for Romney – the former Massachusetts governor gets the support of 37 percent of likely GOP primary voters, including those who are leaning toward a particular candidate. Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, gets 35 percent, and he’s followed by Texas Rep. Ron Paul at 13 percent and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 8 percent.  But in Arizona, Romney is on safer ground: He receives the support of 43 percent of likely GOP primary voters, Santorum gets 27 percent, Gingrich 16 percent and Paul 11 percent.

Michigan remains very rocky general election territory for the GOP, as Obama holds wide leads over all possible challengers:

Turning to the general-election race in November, Obama leads Romney in Michigan by nearly 20 points among registered voters, 51 to 33 percent, with 15 percent undecided. Against Paul, the president’s lead is 22 points (53 to 31 percent); against Santorum, it’s 26 points (55 to 29 percent); and against Gingrich, it’s 28 points (56 to 28 percent)...But Arizona is tougher territory for the president, whose approval rating among registered voters in the state is just 38 percent.

Marist's numbers show every GOP candidate leading Obama in the Grand Canyon State, except for Newt Gingrich.  A similar dynamic applies to down-ticket Senate races.  In Michigan, incumbent Democrat Sen. Debbie Stabenow holds a big advantage over Republican Pete Hoekstra, who is still recovering from a Super Bowl ad that some described as racially insensitive.  Michigan voters weren't impressed.  Out in the desert, likely Republican Senate nominee Rep. Jeff Flake bests his closest Democrat opponent by double-digits.