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Romney Holds Modest Lead Over Santorum In Illinois

Front-runner Mitt Romney has a narrow lead over Rick Santorum among likely voters in the upcoming Illinois primary, a new survey says.

The survey, taken ahead of the March 20 vote, found the former Massachusetts governor slightly ahead of Santorum, 35 percent to 31 percent in Illinois, according to a Chicago Tribune/WGEN-TV poll.

Trailing far behind the top two are former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich at 12 percent and Texas Rep. Ron Paul at 7 percent.

The poll also showed Romney doing well in Chicago's suburbs, where there are generally more moderate Republican voters. In Cook County, Romney tops Santorum 39 percent to 30 percent.

In keeping with the pattern of rural voters preferring Santorum, the survey found the former Pennsylvania senator leads Romney 35 percent to 29 percent in 96 counties outside of Chicago.

Romney continues to struggle with gaining support of those who describe themselves as very conservative, as many question his conservative credentials.

Among very conservative voters in Illinois — 29 percent of the GOP electorate — Santorum leads with 43 percent compared with 29 percent for Romney.

However, the survey found that 46 percent of voters said they could still change their mind.

The results stem from a survey of 600 confirmed registered voters likely to vote and was conducted last week, before Santorum won the Kansas GOP caucuses.

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