Poll: Gingrich, Romney in dead heat nationally

Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney each won 30 percent of likely Republican voters in a new national poll released Tuesday.

The race for the lead is a dead heat, according to the Washington Post-ABC News poll. 

Romney has been closing in on Gingrich, who briefly led the Republican presidential field. Gingrich and Romney were also tied at 28 percent in Monday's CNN-ORC national poll.

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Ron Paul takes third place with 15 percent nationally in the Post-ABC poll, followed by Michele Bachmann with 7 percent, Rick Perry with 6 percent, Rick Santorum with 4 and Jon Huntsman with 2 percent of the Republican voters.

On the other hand, 36 percent of the polled voters still say they could change their minds about their vote.

The poll shows Romney might still be winning the electability argument, as 38 percent believed that of all the candidates, Romney "has the best chance to defeat Barack Obama in the general election," compared to Gingrich's 28 percent. However, Gingrich wins 43 percent compared to Romney's 23 percent when voters were asked who "has the best experience to be president."

Healthcare — and likely his support of the individual mandate in Massachusetts — still seems to be the major obstacle for Romney to overcome with voters, as 36 percent named it a "major reason to oppose" him as the nominee. 

Gingrich's marital past, which includes two divorces and infidelity, was deemed by 72 percent of those surveyed "not a major factor" in weighing whether to oppose him. But 45 percent said Ron Paul's foreign policy, namely his "opposition to U.S. military interventions overseas," was a major reason not to support him as a candidate.

The poll was conducted by phone Dec. 15-18 with a sample size of 1,005. The poll has a 3.5-point error margin.

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