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Romney regains national lead in GOP race: poll

(Xinhua)

21:37, December 30, 2011

WASHINGTON, Dec. 29 (Xinhua) -- Mitt Romney, former governor of U.S. state of Massachusetts, has returned to the top place in national contest for the Republican presidential nomination, ending a nearly month-long lead by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a new national poll showed on Thursday.

Twenty-seven percent of Republican voters back Romney as their party's nominee, a 4-point lead over Gingrich, according to a Gallup survey. Support for Romney has risen 5 points since early Dec., compared with a sharp decline of Gingrich's from 37 percent to 23 percent.

House Representative Ron Paul of Texas finished a distant third with 11 percent of the GOP vote, followed by Texas Governor Rick Perry at 8 percent and House Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota at 5 percent.

The race for the U.S. Republican nomination has been characterized this year by substantial ebbs and flows in support for the various contenders. Perry, businessman Herman Cain who has dropped out, and Gingrich all enjoyed brief rises in support levels, only to fall back within weeks. Support for Romney, on the other hand, has been much steadier, though largely capped at mid- 20s.

Gingrich has suffered from barrage of attacks from GOP rivals after surging to the top of the field. Those attacks have taken a toll on his poll numbers, both nationally and in some key battlegrounds.

A separate survey showed that Gingrich has been edged out from the lead position in Iowa, which kicks of the GOP nominating contest on Jan. 3.

Gingrich, who led the Iowa contest with 27 percent of support a month ago, finished third at just 13 percent, according to a Public Policy Poll released on Thursday. Paul leads the field with 24 percent, followed by Romney at 20 percent.

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