WASHINGTON, April 11 (Xinhua) -- Former Governor Mitt Romney, the presumptive U.S. Republican presidential nominee, has won the hearts of only 42 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning voters nationwide, a record low for Republican winning candidate, according to a Gallup poll released on Wednesday.
Second placed Republican candidate Rick Santorum's announcement to quit his presidential race Tuesday effectively ends the Republican nomination contest and makes his leading rival Romney the presumptive nominee. But latest Gallup poll showed Romney is the preferred presidential candidate of 42 percent of Republican voters nationwide, one percentage point below his high on the campaign trail. Santorum comes in second at 24 percent, 12 points below his peak in mid-February.
No other Republican winner in the primary era has had as little as 42 percent support in Gallup's final measure of nomination preferences, with George W. Bush's 57 percent in 2000 the lowest before now, the poll found.
Republicans' lack of enthusiasm for him was evident in the number of times he shared or lost the lead. At various points in the campaign, Romney trailed or was tied with Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, and Santorum.
The results are based on April 4-9 Gallup daily tracking interviews with 1,149 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who are registered to vote.
Across both parties, only George McGovern had less support among a winner in either party, with 30 percent support of Democrats just before the 1972 Democratic convention. Jimmy Carter, who was supported by 48 percent of Democrats in 1980 as he sought re-election, is the only other nominee who was below 50 percent support in Gallup's final nomination preference poll.
Still on the trail, Republican candidate Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul finished tied at 10 percent in the final poll, but not considered potential factors to prevent Romney from a Republican nomination.
With Santorum's suspension, U.S. President Barack Obama and Romney now shifted their campaign trail into general election gear. Gallup is now transitioning its daily tracking to measuring general election preferences between Obama and Romney, with the first results to be reported next Monday.
A latest Pew Research Center poll also showed on Wednesday a sizable share of Americans are unsure how Democrats and Republicans line up on some of the country's most divisive issues.