Mitt Romney leads rivals by 23 points in national poll

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, holds up seven-month-old Ellen Whitaker as he campaigns at American Legion Post 15 in Sumter, S.C., Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012.
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney holds a 23 percentage point lead over his closest rivals for the GOP presidential nomination, according to a Gallup survey of registered Republican voters nationwide. 

The tracking poll, taken between Jan. 11 and Jan. 15, shows Romney with 37 percent support. Tied for a distant second are former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich with 14 percent each, followed by Texas Rep. Ron Paul with 12 percent support.

The survey showed Texas Gov. Rick Perry with 5 percent support and Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who dropped out of the race Mondayand threw his support to Romney, with just two percent support.

Romney, the winner of the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, has seen a steady, double-digit increase in national support since the January 3 caucuses. Gingrich, by contrast, has been in freefall, dropping from 37 percent support in December.

Santorum, who won the backingof a group of prominent social conservatives over the weekend, reached 18 percent support following his near-win in Iowa but has since dropped to 14 percent.

A new CNN/ORC International poll, also released Monday, showed Romney and Paul statistically tied with President Obama in a general election matchup. Mr. Obama was favored over Santorum by six points and over Gingrich by nine points. 

The survey, released ahead of this evening's GOP presidential debate in South Carolina, showed voters trust Romney more than the president on the economy: 53 percent say Romney could get the economy moving, compared to 40 percent for Mr. Obama.

On the question of who is in touch with ordinary Americans, however, Mr. Obama holds the edge: 53 percent say the president is in touch with ordinary Americans, compared to 41 percent for Romney.

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