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In Ohio, the state that many political watchers consider critical and key among the 10 state contests Tuesday, Romney has closed what was once a double-deficit lead by former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum to a tie.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll released over the weekend shows Romney and Santorum tied at 32 percent. Most political experts feel Santorum must win in Ohio to keep his campaign alive.
Some felt the same way about Michigan, where Santorum fell from a double-digit lead in the polls 10 days before last week’s primary to lose to Romney by three percentage points. Romney now has five straight wins: Maine, Arizona, Wyoming, Washington state and Michigan. A win in Ohio Tuesday could re-establish Romney as the undisputed frontrunner and leave Santorum scrambling for money as contributions dry up.
Romney also received a surprise endorsement Sunday from Virginia Republican congressman Eric Cantor. the House Minority Leader.
“Cantor helps Romney not only in Virginia, where only he and Ron Paul appear on the ballot, but also with conservatives nationwide,” GOP activist Sandra DeLong tells Capitol Hill Blue. “Cantor is a favorite with the tea party and his endorsement carries weight with that wing of the GOP.”
Cantor’s endorsement of Romney was a blow to the campaign hopes of Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who hoped to do well in a state where only he and Romney appear on the ballot. Paul is still looking for his first primary win but did finish second in the Washington state caucuses, finishing one percentage point ahead of Santorum.
Both Santorum and former Speaker of the House Rick Santorum failed to meet Virginia’s qualifications for the ballot. Gingrich is banking on a win in Georgia Tuesday to jump start his stalled campaign. A loss in his home state could end Gingrich’s faltering effort.