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News Link • Politics: Republican Campaigns

Ohio primary: Buckeye State brawl up next

• By ALEXANDER BURNS
 

Ohio allocates its 66 presidential delegates proportionally so it’s unlikely that any candidate will achieve a decisive advantage in that realm. But of all the primaries left on the calendar, none carries quite the same symbolic weight as Ohio, a premier general election battleground at the center of the industrial Midwest.

Public and private polling suggests the race here is a competitive fight between Romney and Rick Santorum. Quinnipiac University gave Santorum a 7-point lead over Romney earlier this week. Private polling conducted for Republicans outside the presidential race, and shared with POLITICO, showed Santorum up by 5 percentage points.

That was before Romney won both Michigan and Arizona on Tuesday — two victories that may lift his numbers in Ohio and other, more conservative states such as Oklahoma and Georgia, which vote on March 6.
 
But conservatives and even Democrats — who have sought opportunities in the primary to weaken Romney for the general election — are still in a position to make Romney sweat in Ohio. Local politicos caution that the race could take yet another unpredictable turn in a contest that’s featured many.

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