Helped by his victory in the Illinois primary and an endorsement by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney's national support among Republican voters has increased to 40 percent, according to a Gallup Daily tracking poll
. It's the first time a candidate has reached the 40 percent level in the 2012 campaign.
Rick Santorum's support was second-highest, at 26 percent. Newt Gingrich had the backing of 14 percent, and Ron Paul had 8 percent.
The data are based on Gallup Daily tracking from March 18-22.
Prior to this week, Romney's high was 38 percent, in Feb. 29-March 4, polling after wins in Michigan and Arizona, according to Gallup. Santorum's high was 36 percent in mid-February after his sweep of the Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri contests on Feb. 7. Gingrich reached 37 percent in early December.
Romney's 14-point lead is not his largest. He led by 23 points in mid-January after winning the New Hampshire primary, but that lead -- and another he held in late January and early February --disappeared.
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