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Ga. poll gives Gingrich big lead over Romney

ATLANTA (AP) -- Newt Gingrich has maintained a double-digit lead over his Republican rivals in Georgia with less than a month to go before the state's presidential primary, according to a poll released Saturday.

The poll showed the former House speaker leading Mitt Romney 43 percent to 29 percent among likely voters in Georgia, the state Gingrich represented in Congress for two decades.

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum had 12 percent while Texas congressman Ron Paul trailed with 6 percent. The polling was conducted Monday through Wednesday, meaning many Georgia respondents were questioned before Santorum won contests in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado that have given his campaign a renewed sense of momentum.

Georgia is one of 10 states that will decide their Republican primaries on March 6. It's also the Super Tuesday state with the most delegates up for grabs, with a total of 76.

The Georgia poll showed Gingrich leading among both men and women as well as with voters who identified themselves as evangelical Christians and tea party supporters. Gingrich also led Romney by healthy margins in all regions of the state except for metro Atlanta, where they were in statistical tie with Gingrich polling at 38 percent and Romney at 34 percent.

The poll was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. of Washington, D.C. and paid for by 13 daily newspapers with readership across Georgia.

Pollsters conducted telephone interviews with 625 registered Georgia voters who said they were likely to vote in the GOP primary. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.