The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller
              FILE - In this Jan. 3, 2012, file photo Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, seen with his Karen, left, addresses supporters at his Iowa caucus victory party in Johnston, Iowa. GOP primary voters have spent the past six weeks lurching toward one candidate and then another in an exercise of political soul-searching that appears far from settled. The next contests, in Arizona and Michigan, aren  FILE - In this Jan. 3, 2012, file photo Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, seen with his Karen, left, addresses supporters at his Iowa caucus victory party in Johnston, Iowa. GOP primary voters have spent the past six weeks lurching toward one candidate and then another in an exercise of political soul-searching that appears far from settled. The next contests, in Arizona and Michigan, aren't until Feb. 28; the party with a reputation for order may have it sorted out after March 6, when 10 states get their say. But that would break sharply with this race's tendency toward uncertainty. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)   

Santorum has 18-point lead over Romney in Ohio

Rick Santorum is smoking Mitt Romney in a Rasmussen poll of Ohio Republican voters released on Thursday.

Santorum gets 42 percent in the swing state, a crucial one in the general election, while Romney sits 18 points behind at 24 percent. Newt Gingrich is in third at 13 percent and Ron Paul is at 10 percent.

If the field were to narrow to just Romney and Santorum, Santorum would flatten Romney 58 percent to 30 percent. (RELATED: With Santorum surging, Romney faces crucial test in Michigan primary)

Romney is not unpopular in the state, but Santorum is more popular, and his supporters feel more strongly toward him. Sixty-four percent of Ohio Republicans say they hold a favorable opinion of Romney, and just 33 percent say they have an unfavorable opinion. However, just 14 percent of those supporters feel very favorably toward them, and 50 percent just feel somewhat favorable. Santorum has a 75-19 favorability rating, but 38 percent of those who favor him feel strongly favorable.

Nonetheless, Romney is still the expected victor in the primary process, with a 55 percent majority saying they expect him to be the nominee, and just 26 percent saying it will be Santorum. Ohio voters see them as equally strong competitors in a general election against President Barack Obama, with 38 percent saying Romney would be the strongest candidate, and 37 percent saying Santorum.

Obama won the state in 2008.

Ohio holds its primary on March 6 — Super Tuesday. With 66 delegates, after Georgia, it is the Super Tuesday state with the second most delegates at stake.

Follow Alexis on Twitter