Women for Santorum?

If this new poll from the Associated Press is any indication, Republicans have mixed feelings about the presidential race. On one hand, 60 percent of Republican say that they are satisfied with the people running for the nomination, which is down from the 66 percent in October. This isn’t a great number, but it isn’t a sign of widespread disappointment, and it dovetails with polls from Gallup that show a broad preference for sticking with candidates that are in the race, rather than reaching for someone new.

That said, only 40 percent of Republicans say they have any interest in the race, which is down from 48 percent in December. Some of this comes from election fatigue—constant coverage can result in people losing interest. What’s more, the race has stabilized considerably since January, and has probably lost some of its excitement. The general election should energize Republicans, since they’ll have a nominee and a direct competitor, in the form of President Obama. Even still, the low level of excitement must concern GOP activists—the closer Republican turnout is to 2008 levels, the more likely it is that Democrats hold the White House.

The AP poll also had a note on Rick Santorum, who has been the center of political attention for the last several weeks. According to the survey, 70 percent of Republicans have a favorable impression of the former Pennsylvania senator. There is a gender gap, but it runs in the other direction—75 percent of Republican women have a positive view of Santorum, compared to 66 percent of Republican men. This is a sign, perhaps, that Santorum’s anti-contraceptive rhetoric won’t be as big a liability with conservative women as once thought.

Of course, this poll was taken before the Romney campaign set its guns on Santorum, so it will be a little while before we know how he has withstood the onslaught.

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