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Will Pennsylvania end Santorum's career (again)?

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A new out today is raising some doubts among supporters of former Senator Rick Santorum and his chances to pull out a victory as the GOP winds down to its August convention in Tampa Bay, Florida.

According to the latest Franklin & Marshall College Pol, Santorum is losing steam in his home state of Pennsylvania -- a must-win if the former Senator hopes to stay competitive in this race:

Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, leads Romney 30% to 28% among GOP voters in the Franklin & Marshall College Poll. In February, Santorum had a 29-point lead in the same survey.

One key finding that highlights the GOP race's volatility in Pennsylvania: An unprecedented four out of five voters are undecided. The Keystone State primary is April 24.

Ron Paul has 9% in the Franklin & Marshall College Poll, followed by Newt Gingrich with 6% support.

If the poll can be trusted, this means Santorum is losing A LOT of steam very quickly. A slide of 27 points in a month is monumental ground to make up between now and April 24.  The poll asked registered GOP voters about their presidential preferences instead of likely voters.  This discrepancy may account for some lost ground, but Franklin & Marshall's sample size still offers significant insight into which way the Keystone primary vote might go.

Hot Air's Ed Morrissey speculates about Santorum's downward trend:

FMC reports that the importance of beating Obama has jumped ten points to 25% as the highest priority for voters.  Strong moral character still leads, but only barely at 26%, down from 36% in February.  The other two categories are “true conservative” (16%) and “the right experience” (21%).  That presents a muddy picture, and without crosstabs it’s difficult to see how this priorities played into voter choices.

Santorum lost his Pennsylvania Senate seat by a pretty wide margin in 2006 as Democrats surged in the latter years of the George W. Bush presidency.  Also holding primaries on 4/24 are New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware -- all states expected to be Romney victories.

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