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Polls: All Knotted Up Between Romney, Santorum

Last updated on Tuesday, February 14, 2012

(Washington)(CNN) - The race for the Republican presidential nomination appears to be all tied up between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, according to two new national surveys.

The latest edition of the Gallup Daily Tracking poll, released Monday afternoon, indicates that 32% of registered Republicans say they are backing Romney for their party's nomination, with Santorum at 30%, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 16% and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas at 8%. Romney's two point margin over Santorum is well within the survey's sampling error.

Santorum has surged 14 points in the Gallup Daily Tracking poll over the past week, while Romney's dropped seven points, Gingrich has slipped six points, and Paul has edged down three points.
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According to Pew Research Center Poll also released Monday, Santorum's at 30% nationally among Republicans and independent voters who lean towards the GOP, with Romney at 28%, Gingrich at 17% and Paul at 12%. Santorum's two point margin over Romney is well within the survey's sampling error.

The Pew poll indicates that Santorum has double digit leads over Romney among self-described tea party movement supporters and among white evangelical voters.

Both surveys were conducted entirely after Santorum's victories over Romney, Gingrich and Paul in the February 7 contests in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri.

National polling is often a lagging indicator, but a rise in such surveys can help candidates when it comes to building momentum, which can help with fundraising.

"The primary wins have given Santorum wind at his back, which is important, but he'll need the infrastructure to build a sail to capture that wind if he's to be successful in future states," says GOP strategist Doug Heye, a former communications director for the Republican National Committee.

Romney edged out Santorum Saturday in a non-binding straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference, and topped Paul by less than 200 votes in the Maine caucuses, which were announced later that day. Arizona and Michigan are next up in the primary and caucus calendar. Both states hold primaries on February 28th. (link to my wire on Michigan poll)

According to the Pew poll, President Barack Obama leads Romney 52%-44% in a hypothetical general election matchup, with Obama topping Santorum 53%-43% and beating Gingrich 57%-39%.

The Pew Poll was conducted Feb. 8-12, with 1,172 registered voters nationwide, including 552 Republican or independents who lean towards the GOP, questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error for registered voters is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, with a sampling error of plus or minus five percentage points for Republican nomination questions.

The Gallup Daily Tracking poll was conducted Feb. 8-12, with 1,000 registered Republicans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

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