) -- Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich drew a statistical tie in a national poll released Tuesday that further proved former House Speaker Gingrich's rapid drop as the GOP frontrunner.


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survey showed Gingrich and Romney at 30% apiece among likely GOP voters and Ron Paul in third at 15%. The numbers showed a significant shift since the same poll's results were released on Nov. 3; that poll had Rick Perry in second behind Romney.

Gingrich's campaign began to slowly lose momentum in national and state polls when the race entered December and as it creeps closer to the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3.

The good news for Gingrich is that national polls can often be imperfect indicators of the state-by-state primary schedule every candidate must endure in order to win a party's presidential nomination. However, a peek at early state primaries also doesn't bode well for the former House speaker.

Paul has taken a slight lead in an average of the latest major polls in Iowa ahead of Romney, while Gingrich has fallen from first to third in a week. Romney still holds a sizable lead in New Hampshire, where Gingrich (and everyone else) has seen volatile swings in numbers.

South Carolina appears to be the one strong polling state for Gingrich, but Romney's recent

endorsement from South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley could prove a gargantuan political gain for the former Massachusetts governor among the state's conservatives.

Gingrich has a huge lead in Florida, but the latest polling sample from the state is almost two weeks old, and without a strong showing in Iowa Gingrich's road to Super Tuesday could grow increasingly difficult.

For now, though, it's just another poll and another day in the horse race.

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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