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Rick Santorum got a lot of applause railing against the Obama administration over whether religious institutions should have to offer health insurance that covers birth control. But applause aside, even Republicans are on the president's side. Here's our guide to today's polls and which ones matter.

Findings: 60 percent of Americans support the federal government requiring private health insurance plans cover the full costs of birth control. That includes 50 percent of Republicans, The Washington Post's Greg Sargent points out.
Pollster: New York Times/ CBS News
Methodology: Phone interviews of 1,197 Americans, 997 of them registered voters, from February 8 to February 13. Cell phone users were included.
Why it matters: The conventional wisdom is quickly flipping from the idea that Obama bungled his handling of the issue with Catholic officials to the idea that this is a wedge issue that helps Democrats.
Caveat: This is definitely not going to be the No. 1 issue in the general election. Or even, like, No. 30.

Findings: Obama's approval rating is 50 percent.
Pollster: New York Times/ CBS News
Methodology: Phone interviews of 1,197 Americans from February 8 to February 13.
Why it matters: This is the highest approval rating Obama's had in this poll since May 2010, if you don't count a short-lived bump from Osama bin Laden's death. It's one of several recent polls showing Obama's approval rating doing much better, and that's considered a good way to measure his reelection chances.
Caveat: Even Obama's reelection team doesn't think the economic news will be uniformly good in the next few months, Politico's Mike Allen reports, which means Obama's poll numbers probably won't be either. Allen writes, "don't get swept up in the hype: The administration isn't!"

Findings: Santorum is beating Romney in Ohio 36 percent to 29 percent. He's beating Romney in Michigan 34 percent to 25 percent.
Pollster: Quinnipiac University; Mitchell/ Rosetta Stone
Methodology: Survey of 1,421 registered voters, 553 of them Republican primary voters, from February 7 to February 12; interviews with 455 likely Republican primary voters on Valentine's Day.
Why it matters:  Santorum's popularity shows Romney's problem appealing to the white working class. (One interesting symptom of this: the rolling-in-the-campaign-dough Romney might run out of money, BuzzFeed's Zeke Miller reports, because his rich donors have maxed out but he can't get small donors to give him money.) Michigan votes February 28, and Ohio votes March 6, Super Tuesday. Romney needs to "own" Michigan, his home state, Politico says. "Either Michigan is the place where he rights his campaign's ship and continues his methodical march to the nomination," NBC News' First Read writes. "Or it’s the place -- because of all the advantages he enjoys in the state -- where we all realize he might not recover to become the GOP nominee."
Caveat: Polls can change fast: Public Policy Polling had Newt Gingrich ahead in the state in late January with 26 percent to Romney's 25 percent. Santorum had 22 percent.


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