- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 4, 2012

After a good February for each of them, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum head into Super Tuesday essentially tied in The Washington Times/JZ Analytics’ poll of Republican primary voters nationwide, which also found little appetite for the GOP to wait until a convention to settle matters.

Only slightly more than a quarter of voters said they want to see a brokered convention, while nearly twice that many said they are satisfied with the choices presented to them this year.

There is no magic bullet candidate that could change the face of the race: Even given new choices such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin or former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a plurality of voters still sticks with Mr. Romney.

But there is also a tremendous amount of instability as many in the GOP remain unsure about their choice for nominee, or about whether they would prefer a brokered convention.

In the head-to-head matchup, Mr. Romney narrowly led Mr. Santorum25.5 percent to 25.3 percent out of 500 likely voters, well within the margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

Rep. Ron Paul of Texas had13.5 percent and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich trailed with 11 percent, while 3 percent named someone else. Nearly 22 percent were unsure.

The survey indicates voters still want to kick the tires a bit more, said John Zogby, the pollster who conducted the survey.

“They’ve test-driven a bunch of vehicles [and] while they haven’t quite gotten the perfect vehicle, they’re more comfortable with this one than they are with any of the others. The others have been ruled out,” Mr. Zogby said.

“They’re going to buy this car, but they’re just not exactly ready to make the down payment. They will. And it has nothing to do with Santorum, Gingrich, Paul or, frankly, as we see in this poll, anybody else.”

Voters remain apprehensive. In fact, the number of those reporting they aren’t sure about their choice of candidate has risen from the last Times/JZ Analytics Poll, taken in mid-January, which found that just 12 percent weren’t sure whom they would support. Now that number is 21 percent.

Although he seems to have a handle on the race, Mr. Romney’s support has fallen 6.1 percentage points since that poll. But so has support for Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Paul, leaving Mr. Santorum the only one to show improvement.

Even with Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Paul still competing, voters seem to view the race as a two-man affair between Mr. Romney and Mr. Santorum.

Mr. Romney had the best February, winning in Nevada, Maine, Michigan and Arizona. Meanwhile, Mr. Santorum established himself as the chief alternative, winning caucuses in Minnesota and Colorado and a nonbinding primary in Missouri.

Mr. Gingrich hasn’t won since South Carolina’s Jan. 21 primary, while Mr. Paul has yet to win a single state — though he contends that when the delegates are selected from caucus states such as Iowa, he will outperform his initial showing.

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