Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum for the first time took the national lead in voter preference in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, a Public Policy survey indicated Saturday.
Less than a week after defeating Mitt Romney in the primary elections in three states, Santorum holds a 15-point advantage over the ex-governor of Massachusetts, who up to now had been ahead in the polls with a 10-point lead over his immediate rival, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
According to the Public Policy survey, Santorum now has 38 percent of voter preference nationwide compared with 23 percent for Romney, while Gingrich has 17 percent and Texas lawmaker Ron Paul 13 percent.
This is Santorum’s best poll result to date, since up to now his best national position came after a surprise victory in Iowa, but even so Romney led the ex-senator by 10 percentage points.
Santorum’s standing surged following his win Tuesday in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado, the latter state formerly considered a solid Romney stronghold, and his campaign has said that since then he has collected more than $2 million in campaign contributions.
Santorum also surpassed Romney among the main demographic groups including those identified as highly conservative, voters of the ultraconservative Tea Party and the Evangelicals.
The survey was taken with a sample of 656 voters in the Republican primaries between Feb. 9 and 10 by means of automated telephone interviews, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.