On the eve of the Alabama and Mississippi primaries, a new CBS News/New York Times poll shows Rick Santorum with a slight lead over Mitt Romney among Republican primary voters nationwide, but most expect Romney to eventually win the nomination.
The survey, conducted March 7 thought March 11, shows 34 percent of primary voters said they support Santorum, compared to a mere 30 percent for Romney. Santorum's lead falls within the poll's margin of error.
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Former US Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich was backed by 13 percent of those surveyed - a slight increase in support from last month's polling, while Ron Paul received 8 percent, a slight decrease in his support.
Voters who identify themselves as conservatives backed Santorum while Romney supporters tend to be more moderate. Evangelicals have been strong supporters of Santorum, who support him, more than two to one, over Romney.
Over the weekend, Romney, the current GOP frontrunner, won Republican caucuses in Wyoming and the Virgin Islands.
Romney won seven delegates in Wyoming while Santorum, who took Kansas, gained two delegates, Politico said. Ron Paul won one Wyoming delegate. Another delegate was undecided, the paper reported.
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A candidate needs 1,144 delegates to win the Republican presidential nomination.
Including Saturday's contests, Romney has secured 454 delegates, the Associated Press said. Santorum has 217. Former US Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has 107 delegate votes, and Texas Congressman Ron Paul has 47.
The contests in Kansas and Wyoming left Romney with 454 delegates in the AP's count, more than all his rivals combined. Santorum had 217, while Gingrich had 107 and Paul had 47.
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