PPP's newest national poll finds that Mitt Romney leads with 34% to 31% for Rick Santorum, 20% for Newt Gingrich, and 9% for Ron Paul. But if Gingrich dropped out Santorum would have a small lead with 41% to 40% for Romney and 11% for Paul.
46% of Republican primary voters actually do think it's time for Gingrich to drop out, while 42% think he should continue on. 48% of his supporters would go to Santorum, while 33% would pick Romney. Gingrich dropping out being worth 4 points to Santorum is also what we found on our Illinois poll over the weekend- it would be a boost to Santorum, but not necessarily a game changing one.
A deeper look at the favorability numbers for the two front runners shows two campaigns headed in opposite direction. Romney's net favorability of +19 (54/35) is up 18 points from our national poll in February, a sign of increasing acceptance with the GOP base. Santorum is actually more well liked than Romney with a net favorability of +29 (59/30). But his numbers are headed in the wrong direction, a 13 point drop from his lofty +42 (64/22) standing a month ago.
The talk of a brokered convention never seems to die down and one interesting finding on this poll was that Sarah Palin is far more popular than any of the actual Republican candidates in the race. Her net favorability is +48, with 68% of voters rating her favorably to only 20% with a negative opinion. That compares favorably to +29 for Santorum, +19 for Romney, and -26 for Paul.
Palin is someone GOP delegates might be able to unify around in the case of a hopelessly deadlocked convention. She is seen positively by Gingrich voters (85/7), Santorum supporters (80/10), and Romney ones (57/27) alike. That's a contrast to Romney who is disliked by both Santorum (38/48) and Gingrich (32/54) voters and Santorum who is disliked by Romney (38/48) voters and only seen narrowly favorably by Gingrich (46/42) backers.
One other side note after the Puerto Rico primary was in the spotlight over the weekend- only 22% of Republican primary voters support Puerto Rican statehood, while 49% are opposed to it and 29% have no opinion.
Full results here