Polls: Santorum leads Louisiana, Romney pulls away nationally

Rick Santorum looks poised for another Deep South victory in Louisiana on Saturday, but Mitt Romney is pulling away from the pack nationally, according to two new polls released Thursday.

Santorum took 43 percent of support in Louisiana, according a survey from conservative polling outlet Rasmussen, followed by Romney at 31 percent, Newt Gingrich at 16 percent, and Ron Paul at 5 percent.

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It’s the first Louisiana survey conducted since Romney’s decisive victory in Illinois on Tuesday, and it suggests voters in the Pelican State have not been swayed by the creeping inevitability of a Romney nomination.

A Santorum victory in Louisiana would return attention to Romney’s inability to connect with the conservative base in the Deep South, if only briefly, as the primary schedule lines up favorably for Romney in April.


Santorum will need some major upsets outside of states where evangelical Christians and those who identify as "strongly conservative" have helped buoy his campaign's attempt to prevent Romney from securing the nomination before the Republican convention.



The latest Gallup national poll shows Romney matching his highest marks to date at 38 percent of support, while extending his lead into double digits over Santorum, who came in at 27 percent.

Romney landed another big endorsement on Wednesday when he gained the backing of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, an influential figure in the party. Bush made his announcement the day after Romney won a double-digit victory in Illinois' GOP primary.

The confluence of events has many speculating that Romney has all but sewn up the party’s nomination.

About half of the delegates needed to secure the nomination have been awarded so far, and Romney holds a more than 2-to-1 lead.

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