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USC/Times Survey Finds Majority Of California Republicans Back Romney

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(credit: Mark Kegans/Getty Images)

(credit: Mark Kegans/Getty Images)

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Mitt Romney is running away with Republican support in California, as the leader of the national presidential field enjoys a double digit lead over his competitors in the GOP, a new survey finds.

Romney was backed by 42 percent of registered Republican voters, with Rick Santorum trailing him by 19 points, according to the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll released Sunday. Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul were a distant third and fourth.

Romney’s support jumped 15 points since a November USC/Times poll, when Georgia businessman Herman Cain was his closest rival. Cain has since dropped out.

Overall, though, respondents were not thrilled with the Republican field. Half of GOP voters said they wish different candidates were running for president.

Just 37 percent of voters said they had a favorable impression of Romney. For Paul it was 30 percent, Santorum 28 percent and Gingrich 25 percent.

California’s primary will be held June 5. Romney is heavily favored, but he could have a harder time in the general election.

In the poll President Barack Obama led Romney by 21 points and the other candidates by even more — Paul by 28 points, Santorum by 29 and Gingrich by 32.

Nearly six in ten voters surveyed said they approved of Obama’s job performance, a jump of seven points since the last poll in November. And 62 percent said they had a favorable view of the president, a figure that spiked to 73 percent among Latinos, one of the state’s key voting groups.

The poll surveyed 1,500 registered voters by phone between March 14 and 19. The survey has an overall margin of error of 2.9 percentage points. It was conducted by the Times and the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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