Mitt Romney seems to have surged ahead of the pack of GOP presidential hopefuls - just as the Republican prepares to debate his fellow candidates on his home turf in New England.

Several new polls show Romney with a strong lead among Republican voters - significantly stronger than in previous surveys, with his popularity spiking particularly in the weeks since officially announcing his candidacy for president.

The latest Fox News poll shows Romney as the leading contender in a long list of potential GOP nominees, with 23 percent of Republican voters picking him as the party's preferred nominee. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani comes in second with 13 percent, right ahead of Fox News contributor Sarah Palin with 12 percent.

Voters in the Fox News poll also overwhelmingly believe, at 68 percent, that Romney is more qualified to be president than any other candidate.

A new USA Today/Gallup poll shows Romney's support has surged ahead in the last month to 24 percent, up from 17 percent since May - widening his lead over runner-up Sarah Palin, who remains at 15percent.

Supporters of Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee and Mitch Daniels may have shifted their support to Romney, after all three announced within the last several weeks that they would not seek the presidential nomination.

No other candidate saw any significant increase in support within the last month, with the exception of Rick Santorum - whose numbers rose slightly from 2 percent to 6 percent. The quick spike suggests that Romney, despite his association with a contentious state-run healthcare program, will be a formidable candidate in the GOP field.

Romney will face off against a cadre of GOP hopefuls in New Hampshire Monday night. It will be the first time that he and several other major candidates, including Newt Gingrich and Rep. Michelle Bachmann, who still has yet to announce a run, will participate in a 2012 election debate.