Over to you, Ohio.
Mitt Romney’s narrow victory Tuesday night over Rick Santorum in the Michigan Republican primary now sets the stage for a repeat in the Buckeye State. And already, the situation is mirroring the one in Michigan.
A Quinnipiac University survey, published Monday, finds Santorum with a 7 percent lead over Romney in Ohio, the same lead he held two weeks ago. The Ohio Poll, by the University of Cincinnati, shows Santorum with an 11 percent lead.
Santorum led Romney by as much as 20 percent coming into the Michigan primary, too.
As in Michigan, a lot of people tell pollsters they may change their minds, which means lots of campaign appearances between now and next Tuesday.
Santorum already has gotten a jump on his Ohio campaigning. He squeezed in an appearance in Perrysburg on Tuesday, before traveling to Grand Rapids, Mich., for his election night event.
Compared with Michigan, Santorum may actually have more of an edge over Romney in Ohio. It borders Pennsylvania, where Santorum served as U.S. senator, making him more familiar to Ohioans than he was to Michiganians.
Ohio, which has 66 delegates, is the second biggest prize on Super Tuesday next to Georgia, with 77 delegates. But Newt Gingrich is likely to take his home state, and he has not actively campaigned in the Midwest, leaving Ohio as a Romney-Santorum battleground.
As in Michigan, there are essentially two blocks of voters for the candidates to go after: suburbanites around Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati, and small town and rural residents along the I-75 corridor from Toledo to Dayton.
In his home state, Romney did best in the Detroit suburbs, while Santorum took conservative areas in southwest and western Michigan, as well as the Upper Peninsula. They will end up splitting the state’s 30 delegates, which are awarded based on votes in Congressional districts.
The Columbus Dispatch noted that the Ohio Poll shows Santorum with a solid grip on the people who said they would vote for him. Some 46 percent said they are “definitely’ behind the candidate.
“This gives the Santorum campaign the luxury of spending less time reassuring his base and more time attracting voters from other candidates and reaching out to undecided voters,” said Eric Rademacher, co-director of the Ohio Poll. “For Romney, he must first strengthen his base and then move to attract additional support.”
Are you an Ohio voter? What’s on your mind for Super Tuesday — and who are you supporting?