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Santorum, Romney Even in Popularity; Gingrich Fades to a New Low

Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) – Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney have battled essentially to parity in basic popularity, far outpacing Newt Gingrich, who’s faded to a new low in the 2012 election cycle, according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll. But Santorum’s arc flattened this week, underscoring a potentially difficult battle ahead.

Within their party, 65 percent of Republicans express a favorable opinion of Romney overall, and about as many, 61 percent, hold a positive view of Santorum, levels that suggest many party regulars ultimately would accept either candidate as their nominee.

Gingrich dropped to 45 percent favorability within the GOP in this ABC News/Washington Post poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates. That’s down by 10 points in the past month and by 15 points from Gingrich’s best, in November and December.

Still Santorum, after advancing earlier this month, saw his ratings flatten overall this week, with a 10-point increase in unfavorable views among Americans who describe themselves as “very” conservative. It’s still among his best groups, though, and one in which he continues to lead Romney.

The Republican contenders meet Wednesday night for their 20th debate, their first since Jan. 26, a face-off that preceded Santorum’s surge and Gingrich’s fade. It was their last debate before the Arizona and Michigan primaries next Tuesday.

[ READ THE FULL REPORT HERE ]

METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cell phone Feb. 15-19, 2012, among a random national sample of 1,012 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points. The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by SSRS/Social Science Research Solutions of Media, Pa.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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