Polls Boost Mitt Romney in GOP Race Headed to Super Tuesday

Romney leads in Washington polls, trails (but only by a little bit) in Ohio as barnstorming continues.

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Mitt Romney's future fortunes were indeed helped by his recent Republican presidential primary victories, a blowout in Arizona and a squeaker in Michigan. New polling shows the former Massachusetts governor has taken the lead in Washington State, where voters will weigh in on Saturday. According to Public Policy Polling, Romney garners 37 percent support, compared to 32 percent for his closest rival, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, 16 percent for Texas Rep. Ron Paul, and 13 percent for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

[Read: Buckeye State Showdown.]

"Momentum has swung strongly in Mitt Romney's direction among Washington Republicans over the last two weeks," writes Tom Jensen, PPP's polling director, in a release. "The large shift in Washington reflects what has happened in the race nationally over that period of time. If Romney does end up winning Saturday night it will be a large Mormon vote that puts him over the top."

Jensen says of the 14 percent of likely caucus goers who are Mormons, 64 percent of them support Romney. Santorum leads Romney with non-Mormons 35 percent to 32 percent, according to PPP.

Polling is available from only two of the 10 states slated to cast votes on March 6 or "Super Tuesday."

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In Ohio, two recent polls show Santorum with a slight lead on Romney, though both tallies are so close they are statistical ties. Rasmussen Reports has Santorum with 33 percent to Romney's 31 percent and Quinnipiac University shows Santorum with 35 percent versus 31 percent for Romney.

Gingrich, who has turned his full attention to his home state of Georgia, is being rewarded in polling there. A Survey USA poll shows him leading the field with 39 percent to Santorum's 24 percent and Romney's 23 percent. An earlier poll had Gingrich at 38 percent, Santorum at 25 percent, and Romney with 19 percent.

Advertising is already up in both Ohio and Georgia, which along with Tennessee, will be hotly contested by Santorum. In Ohio he's fighting against Romney, whereas in the southern states the match-up is against Gingrich.

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The results in some of the other Super Tuesday states are almost foregone conclusions. In Virginia, for example, Romney and Paul are the only candidates who qualified for the ballot and Romney is expected to win easily. Romney is also favored in Massachusetts and neighboring Vermont based on his ties to New England.

Paul hopes to compete in caucuses in Alaska, Idaho, and North Dakota, but it's unclear if he has a chance to notch his first win in the race. Santorum also hopes to fare well in Oklahoma.

On Friday, Romney was scheduled to begin his day in Washington and end it in Ohio; Santorum is stumping in Ohio but will hold a tele-town hall with voters in Washington in the evening; Gingrich is spending his day in Georgia; and Paul is holding events in Washington.

E-mail: rmetzler@usnews.com

Twitter: @rebekahmetzler