The Washington Times - March 23, 2012, 12:45PM

A new poll shows GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney has double-digit lead over Rick Santorum heading into the Wisconsin primary early next month.

A Rasmussen Reports survey released Wednesday shows the former Massachusetts governor winning over 46 percent of likely Republican voters in the state, while Mr. Santorum, former senator from Pennsylvania, receives 33 percent. Texas Rep. Ron Paul receives 8 percent and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich brings up the rear with 7 percent.

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The next stop in the Republican nomination race comes Saturday in Louisiana, where the latest polls show Mr. Santorum sitting atop a comfortable lead.

Mr. Santorum has repeatedly outperformed Mr. Romney in states where evangelicals Christians make up half of the electorate. In the Louisiana primary in 2008, nearly 6 in 10 voters identified themselves as or expressed sympathy for evangelicals.

The good news for Mr. Santorum, though, is undercut by the fact that the state’s 46 delegates will be awarded on a proportional basis, diminishing his ability to make up a lot of ground of Mr. Romney in the race for the 1,144 delegates needed to win the nomination.

Mr. Romney is currently in the driver’s seat with 563 delegates, while Mr. Santorum holds 263. Mr. Gingrich has 135 and Mr. Paul 50.

After Louisiana, the candidates will move on to the April 3 contests in Wisconsin, Washington, D.C., and Maryland — three winner-take-all contests where nearly 100 delegates will be on the line. Mr. Santorum did not qualify for the ballot in Washington. D.C.

Mr. Romney started airing a new 30-second television ad Thursday in Wisconsin, where he highlights his fiscal record as governor of Massachusetts.