Romney’s 32 percent puts 11 points between him and Newt Gingrich’s second-place of 21. Ron Paul and Rick Santorum share third with 14 and 13 points respectively.
The bottom tier includes Jon Huntsman with 6 and Rick Perry with 5.
The survey for Newsmax online and made exclusive to the Augusta Chronicle and the Savannah Morning News came as news was just circulating that Jon Huntsman planned to withdraw Monday and endorse Romney.
The poll was conducted Sunday evening by InsiderAdvantage/Majority Opinion Research. It included responses by telephone from 720 registered voters who said they were likely to vote in Saturday’s Republican primary. Its margin of error is 3.8 percent.
In a similar poll for the newspapers conducted Wednesday, Romney and Gingrich were essentially tied for first when the margin of error is included. Tied for second place, effectively, in that poll were Paul and Santorum.
The only candidate to gain ground between the two polls is Romney as half of the undecided voters made up their minds.
His victory is practically assured unless more candidates drop out and their support goes to Gingrich, according to pollster Matt Towery, CEO of InsiderAdvantage.
“This does put pressure on Santorum and Perry to decide where they stand,” he said.
Sunday night’s survey came on the heels of a two-day conference by Christian conservatives where they decided to rally around Santorum as their “stop Mitt” candidate. Their goal is to convince conservative primary voters who oppose Romney to support one candidate instead of dividing among the five other candidates.
“If people were going to get any instructions at church, it didn’t show up in this poll,” Towery said.