Poll: Romney leads in Pa.

Mitt Romney is leading Rick Santorum in a new Public Policy Polling survey of Pennsylvania Republican voters, 42 percent to 37 percent – representing a 23 point swing in the race compared to a PPP poll taken a month ago.

Romney gained 17 points, going from 25 percent to 42 percent. Meanwhile, Santorum has dropped six percentage points, from 43 percent to 37 percent.

“The momentum in Pennsylvania is moving completely against Rick Santorum,” said Dean Debnam, president of PPP, a Democratic firm in Raleigh, N.C. “Mitt Romney has a great opportunity to deliver a final crushing blow to his campaign on April 24.”

Pennsylvania Republicans expressed doubts about Santorum’s viability in the GOP nomination contest as well as the general election in the new PPP survey, which was released Thursday morning.

Only 36 percent of GOP voters surveyed think Santorum has a realistic chance at becoming the party standard bearer; 54 percent believe he does not. When it comes to posting up against President Obama, just 24 percent of respondents say that Santorum would be strongest, compared to 49 percent who named Romney as the best challenger.

“Romney's made huge inroads with the groups that have tended to fuel Santorum's success,” the polling memo states. “What was a 37 point lead for Santorum with Evangelicals is now only 10 points at 44-34 percent. What was a 32 point advantage for him with Tea Party voters is now only 6 at 41-35 percent. And in the greatest sign that conservatives are starting to really around Romney a little bit, what was a 51 point deficit for him with 'very conservative' voters is now only 11 points at 44-33.”