William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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NOT SO FAST, BOYS – AT 9:34 A.M. ET:  Rick Santorum has been hinting that Newt Gingrich should get out of the GOP race so the anti-Romney opposition could unify around Rick.  But, uh, not so fast, Rick.  A new poll shows that theory may be just that, a theory.  From National Journal:

Maybe Rick Santorum shouldn't be hinting so hard that Newt Gingrich should quit the Republican presidential race. A new Gallup poll shows Gingrich's supporters would not necessarily go to Santorum.

In polling March 8-15, Gallup asked Gingrich voters about their second choice for the nomination. The result was an even split: 40 percent chose Romney and 39 percent chose Santorum.

"Gingrich voters would not be likely to coalesce behind Santorum," Gallup analyst Jeffrey Jones wrote. "For many Gingrich supporters, Romney -- not Santorum -- would be their fallback option if Gingrich dropped out."
In a race without Gingrich, Gallup calculated, Romney would have 40 percent of the vote to Santorum's 33 percent. The 7-point lead is essentially the same as Romney's 6-point lead over Santorum (34 percent to 28 percent) when Gingrich is included, Jones said.

The Gallup data show that all three candidates are competitive among conservatives. Romney and Santorum are tied for the lead among conservatives at 33 percent, while Gingrich is back at 16 percent. Among "very conservative" voters, Gingrich and Romney each win about one in five. Santorum is the heavy favorite in that group, with 45 percent.

COMMENT:  Ah, the surprises of politics.  I get the feeling that this poll is on the money.  Republicans want to win.  I think that most think that Romney, whatever his faults, has the best shot in November.

March 17,  2012