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Rick Santorum gains in N.H., but Mitt Romney still leads, says new poll

Rick Santorum rose to 11 percent, but still trails Ron Paul and Mitt Romney, says a new 7 News/Suffolk University poll.

By Ros KrasnyReuters / January 6, 2012

Narrowing the gap: Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum speaks in Northfield, N.H. Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012.

AP Photo/Elise Amendola

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Manchester, N.H.

 Fresh from his strong showing in Iowa, Republican U.S. presidential candidate Rick Santorum has picked up support in New Hampshire ahead of its primary next week, but rival Mitt Romney holds a sizeable lead, according to a poll released on Friday.

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Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, had 11 percent support, up from 8 percent, among likely voters in New Hampshire's primary, according to a 7 News/Suffolk University tracking poll conducted on Wednesday and Thursday.

New Hampshire's primary on Tuesday will be the second in a series of voting contests to choose a Republican nominee to face Democratic President Barack Obama in November's election.

RECOMMENDED: 9 things to know about Rick Santorum

Since finishing narrowly behind Romney at the Iowa caucuses on Tuesday, Santorum has moved ahead of Newt Gingrich, former U.S. House of Representatives speaker, and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman in the New Hampshire survey.

Romney, the former governor of neighboring Massachusetts, had 40 percent support, down from 41 percent a day earlier. Support for Texas Congressman Ron Paul slipped to 17 percent from 18 percent.

Gingrich's support rose to 9 percent from 7 percent. Huntsman, who was endorsed over Romney by the Boston Globe newspaper on Thursday, had 8 percent support against 7 percent. One percent of voters backed Texas Governor Rick Perry, and 15 percent of voters were still undecided.

The poll is based on phone interviews of 500 likely voters in the Republican primary and has a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.

Another New Hampshire opinion survey, conducted on Wednesday, showed a Santorum bounce and a tighter race overall in New Hampshire.

The Washington Times/JZ Analytics Poll of almost 500 voters put Romney ahead with 38 percent, followed by Paul at 24 percent and Santorum at 11 percent. Ten percent of voters were undecided.

The survey had a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

( Editing by Vicki Allen)

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