Mitt Romney Gains Ground In National Polls

Although most eyes are fixed on New Hampshire on the eve of the first-in-the-nation primary, new polls released Monday by the Pew Research Center and Gallup show Mitt Romney gaining ground among registered Republican voters nationally.

The latest Gallup daily tracking survey of the GOP primary race shows Romney with 30 percent support, followed by Rick Santorum at 18 percent, Newt Gingrich with 17 percent, and Ron Paul with 13 percent.

Likewise, a new poll released Monday afternoon by the Pew Research Center of registered Republicans shows Romney leading with 27 percent, Santorum and Gingrich tied for second with 16 percent, and Ron Paul with 12 percent.

Earlier Monday, CBS News released a survey finding Romney with less support -- only 19 percent of Republican voters in their sample said they supported the former Massachusetts governor, a rate that was essentially unchanged from his support in another CBS News poll conducted earlier this month. Like the other two new polls, CBS found Gingrich and Santorum vying for second place with 15 percent and 14 percent, respectively, and Ron Paul with 10 percent.

While all three new surveys were conducted during the same period from Jan. 4 through 8, the CBS News poll differed in two important respects. First, CBS sampled registered voters who said they would vote in the Republican primary, while Gallup and Pew both interviewed registered Republican voters more broadly.

Second, and probably more importantly, the CBS News poll explicitly offered the option, "or would you like to see someone else nominated?" alongside the names of the current candidates. That clause of the question yielded a much higher percentage of respondents saying they would prefer someone else (19 percent) than those who volunteered that information to Gallup (2 percent) or Pew (1 percent).

When CBS News interviewers followed up with a question specifying "If you had to choose" between the current options, eliminating "someone else" as an explicit choice, Romney's support rose to 24 percent, with 18 percent supporting both Gingrich and Santorum.

The newest Gallup daily tracker was conducted Jan. 4 to 8 among 1,117 Republican registered voters nationwide. The Pew survey was conducted Jan. 4 to 8 among 549 Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters and has a margin of error of 5.5 percentage points. The CBS News poll was conducted Jan. 4 to 8 among 440 registered voters who said they plan to vote in the Republican primary.

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