Latest Ohio GOP presidential poll shows tight race

DAN SEWELL Associated Press Published:

CINCINNATI (AP) -- The latest Ohio Republican presidential poll shows a toss-up race between Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney heading into the final weekend before the primary.

The Quinnipiac University poll Friday gave former Pennsylvania Sen. Santorum 35 percent to 31 percent for former Massachusetts Gov. Romney. The lead of 4 percentage points is within the poll's margin of error and tighter than a Quinnipiac poll released Monday that gave Santorum a 36-29 percentage point lead.

Both candidates have multiple Ohio stops this weekend.

As Super Tuesday neared, another Ohio poll found President Barack Obama's approval rating on the rise -- but still under 50 percent.

The University of Cincinnati's Ohio Poll suggested that Ohioans are in a slightly better mood toward leaders of both parties as the economy improves. A Friday report showed Ohio's unemployment rate fell for the third month in a row in January, to 7.7 percent.

The Ohio Poll found that Republican Gov. John Kasich's approval rating rose among Ohioans, to 44 percent from 42 percent in July. It's the first time since Kasich took office in January 2011 that the poll found more voters approve than disapprove of his performance.

Obama also saw a bump in his approval rating, to 47 percent from 43 percent in July, the last time the poll surveyed approval. But about half of Ohioans disapprove of the overall job Obama is doing.

Results of the Ohio Poll have a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points. They are based on a telephone survey of 1,514 adults from Feb. 16 to Feb. 26.

The Quinnipiac Poll found about a third of the voters might still change their minds in the Republican primary before Tuesday's vote.

Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich was third at 17 percent, with U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas at 12 percent. The Feb. 29-March 1 telephone survey interviewed 517 likely Republican voters, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.


AP Statehouse Correspondent Julie Carr Smyth in Columbus contributed to this report.