Third poll shows Santorum edging out Romney for lead in Republican race

A new national poll Tuesday underscored Rick Santorums front-runner status in the GOP presidential field, showing the former Pennsylvania senator in first place ahead of Mitt Romney.

Santorum took 30 percent support compared to Romneys 27 percent, according to a new poll by CBS News and The New York Times. Santorums lead was within the margin of error, but is consistent with two other national polls released Monday that also showed Santorum and Romney in a dead heat.

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Newt Gingrich had dropped to last in the national poll, with 10 percent, while Ron Paul took third with 12 percent.

According to the poll, conservative voters — who have been split between multiple candidates for much of the campaign season — are showing real signs of coalescing around Santorum. He earned 38 percent support among self-identified conservative voters, a jump from 24 percent in a survey the same group conducted in January. 

Romney came in second among conservatives, according to the poll, with 24 percent, trailed by Gingrich with 12 percent (a drop from 25 percent in January) and Paul with 5 percent.


Santorum has surged in the polls and in fundraising after his trifecta of victories in GOP contests in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado. His campaign said it has raised $2 million since his upsets last week.

Polls also showed Santorum leading Romney in Michigan, the state where Romney grew up and where his father served as a popular GOP governor.