DEAD HEAT POLL: Gingrich Lead over Romney Collapses

Newt Gingrich's 15-point national lead has collapsed and the GOP presidential candidate is now in a statistical dead heat with Republican rival Mitt Romney, according to a new Gallup tracking poll out Monday.

The former Speaker of the House is now ahead of Romney by only 26 percent to 24 percent, among GOP voters and GOP leaning independent voters. However, Gingrich's decline has not meant an overwhelming increase in support for the former Massachusetts Governor, and shows that no single candidate has benefited proportionately more from Gingrich's drop.

"Unfortunately for Romney, the sizable percentage of the vote put in play by Gingrich's recent decline has not all gone his way, but instead has been scattered among the entire field," Gallup.com analyzies on their website." This fits the pattern seen over and over again in 2011, in which Romney fails to benefit each time various Republican candidates have fizzled out after surging. That this pattern continues today adds to the body of evidence that a segment of Republican voters want to nominate someone other than Romney. Support for Ron Paul is now 11%, up from 8% to 9% earlier in the month -- marking the first time his support has been above 10% since mid-September. At that time, a Gallup poll of all Republicans/Republican-leaning independents put his support at 13%.

Ron Paull is currently polling at 11 percent while Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry are both at 7 percent. Rick Santorum is  at 4%, and Jon Huntsman at 2 percent.

According to Gallup, the latest findings are from Dec. 13-18 Gallup Daily tracking, based on 1,177 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who are registered to vote. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 points.