Gingrich To Visit Oklahoma As Santorum Surges In Poll - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

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Gingrich To Visit Oklahoma As Santorum Surges In Poll

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Newt Gingrich (AP Photo) Newt Gingrich (AP Photo)
OKLAHOMA CITY -

Newt Gingrich will be in Oklahoma City Monday as he tries to surge past the current front runners in the Sooner state.

In the latest poll released Sunday, Rick Santorum is ahead of Romney and Gingrich in Oklahoma. The state's primary will be held on March 6. Once Gingrich arrives on Monday, each of the top GOP candidates will have campaigned in Oklahoma at least once.

Experts say there is a good reason why Oklahoma is attracting the candidates. Whoever wins the state could claim the conservative mantle and may likely win one of the biggest states in the union: Texas.

Numbers released Sunday by SoonerPoll.com has Santorum leading with 39 percent of the vote. Romney is 16 percentage points behind Santorum. Gingrich is in third place. University of Oklahoma political science professor Keith Gaddie explains why there is a Santorum surge in Oklahoma.

"There's an old saying in Oklahoma politics that given the choice between a real Republican and a fake Republican, the Oklahoma Democrat will take the real Republican every time … they like genuine Republicans," Gaddie said.

A genuine, socially conservative Republican is what Oklahomans see in Santorum according to Gaddie, who conducts polls throughout the state. He says, come Super Tuesday, Oklahoma will be getting attention.

"This is a dress rehearsal for the Texas primaries," Gaddie said. "The primary electorates are very similar."

Experts say if Santorum wins in Oklahoma, he can likely win in Texas, which would make Santorum viable for the nomination. Romney has not expanded his support in Oklahoma from four years ago, but experts are not underestimating the power behind the Romney campaign.

"[If] you can pump enough money in here … it moves Oklahoma more in play, but right now it's Santorum," Gaddie said.

Santorum visited Oklahoma in February. Gingrich will hold a rally at the Jim Thorpe Museum Monday evening.

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