Feathered Bastard

Mitt Romney's Fallen to Just Three Points Ahead in Arizona: Could Paul Babeu's Scandal Sink Him in Sand Land?

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney leads ex-U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum by a mere three percentage points as they and other Republican candidates speed toward Arizona's GOP presidential primary, just one week away.

This, according to a survey just released by the North Carolina-based firm Public Policy Polling. PPP reports that Romney tops Santorum 36-33, with erstwhile U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 16 percent, and U.S. Congressman Ron Paul trailing fourth at nine percent.

Those results should be alarming for the Romney camp, which earlier in the month could boast a 24 point lead over Gingrich, who was then Romney's closest rival, according to Rasmussen Reports

But just days ago, Rasmussen showed Romney's support dropping like a hot rock, with Santorum surging to within 8 points of Romney, 31 percent to Romney's 39.

Romney's lead in the PPP poll is within the survey's 4.8 percent margin of error. 

The question I have is whether the recent revelations by my colleague Monica Alonzo regarding Sheriff Paul Babeu's allegedly threatening his ex-boyfriend with deportation will further wound an already weakened Romney.

Babeu recently resigned as Romney's campaign co-chair in the state, and admitted he was gay in a Saturday press conference, while denying his former lover's claims regarding threats of deportation.

In response to reporters' questions, Babeu expressed support for gay rights, including gays in the military and gay marriage, two hot button issues for GOPers.

PPP director Tom Jensen told me he believes the damage to Romney will be minor, but that even minor damage could affect the Arizona primary race, tight as it is.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons