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Santorum trounces Romney in latest national poll

Republican voters' search for a viable candidate other than Mitt Romney has given Rick Santorum the lead in a national poll for the first time.

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GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum speaks during an address to the 39th Conservative Political Action Committee on Friday in Washington. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

If these numbers hold up to scrutiny, Rick Santorum may have benefited more than anyone else from Republican dislike of Mitt Romney.

According a new poll released today, Santorum has for the first time taken the lead nationwide, opening a 15-point gulf between himself and the former Massachusetts governor. The survey by Public Policy Polling (aligned with the governing Democratic Party) puts Santorum at 38 percent and Romney 23 percent.

Santorum last week swept three states, Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri, taking the shine off of Mitt Romney’s commanding win in Florida’s primary on Jan 31.

More from GlobalPost: Rick Santorum sweeps as Mitt Romney plays coy

A Fox News poll released yesterday had Romney at 33 percent and Santorum at 23 percent, according to Sunshine State News.

The results of ongoing caucuses in the largely uninhabited state of Maine were to be announced this evening, according to the Associated Press, which said the contest was likely down to Romney and libertarian contender Ron Paul. Reliable polling in the state, which usually sees relatively tiny levels of participation, does not exist but anecdotal evidence suggests victory is “by no means assured” for Romney, according to the AP.

A defeat in Maine would be the fourth straight primary campaign defeat for Romney, once the presumptive nominee.

Maine has not voted for a Republican presidential candidate in a general election in 24 years.

More from GlobalPost: Obama beats Romney in latest poll

The New York Times reported that a Romney event in Maine, his first in the state this election cycle, was well attended yesterday but that Romney faced pointed questions about his recent statements on the poor and his efforts to avoid taxation on his vast wealth. He was also interrupted by a heckler angered by policies on hydraulic fracking, or “fracking,” an environmentally risky process for extracting natural gas from underground shale.
 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/120211/santorum-trounces-romney-latest-national-poll