Of all the polling that takes place over the next three weeks, Michigan might get the highest profile. Mitt Romney has strong ties to Michigan; his father was a popular governor in the state, and most people assumed Romney would not have to expend much energy there to win a Republican primary. The first hint of trouble came two weeks ago in a Rasmussen poll that showed Romney only 15 points up over Newt Gingrich but only at 38%, roughly what he got in 2008 against two strong challengers. I wrote at the time that Michigan could provide an opening for an unpleasant surprise for Team Romney, and today’s ARG poll of 600 likely Republican primary voters has delivered it:

Rick Santorum leads the Michigan Republican presidential primary with 33%. Santorum is followed by Mitt Romney with 27%, Newt Gingrich with 21%, and Ron Paul with 12%.

Of course, this could be an outlier, as none of the previous polling in Michigan has had Santorum out of the teens. Now, though, Santorum takes 42% of the Republicans surveyed in the poll (72% of the sample), with Gingrich coming in a distant second at 24%. Romney wins nearly a majority of independents at 48%, with the other three candidates in a virtual tie in the teens. Santorum now leads among Tea Party adherents 37/29 over Gingrich, and comes in a close second to Romney among non-TP adherents 35/30, with Gingrich at 14%. Romney tops Santorum among women only by six points, 39/33, while Santorum beats Gingrich among men 33/28, with Romney at 17%.

Team Romney had better hope that this is an outlier. A Michigan loss would seriously damage Romney’s electability argument, and would give Santorum a great deal of momentum heading into Super Tuesday. Is it an outlier, though? PPP tweeted yesterday that their multiple-day survey in the state so far showed Santorum up by as much as 10-15 points over Romney, and has Newt Gingrich losing to Ron Paul. Those results just got published, and Santorum leads 39/24:

Rick Santorum’s taken a large lead in Michigan’s upcoming Republican primary. He’s at 39% to 24% for Mitt Romney, 12% for Ron Paul, and 11% for Newt Gingrich.

Santorum’s rise is attributable to two major factors: his own personal popularity (a stellar 67/23 favorability) and GOP voters increasingly souring on Gingrich. Santorum’s becoming something closer and closer to a consensus conservative candidate as Gingrich bleeds support.

Read More at Hot Air By Ed Morrissey, Hot Air

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