The race for the Republican presidential nomination takes a lull until April 24 when five states in the Northeast — Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island — hold their primaries. Polls of two of those key states, unveiled on Thursday, show that Mitt Romney is ahead despite Rick Santorum’s roots in the area.

With 94 delegates to the Republican convention in Tampa, New York is the biggest prize on the table when the five states have their say in the Republican race — and Empire State Republicans appear to be solidly behind Romney.

A poll from Quinnipiac University of likely Republican primary voters shows Romney taking 54 percent in New York while Rick Santorum places second with 21 percent. Newt Gingrich stands in third with 9 percent, followed by Ron Paul with 8 percent. While 8 percent are undecided, 39 percent of likely Republican primary voters say they could change their mind before they vote.

“Assuming the numbers hold until April 24, Governor Mitt Romney sweeps the statewide Republican vote — good for 34 delegates to the party convention,” said Maurice Carroll, the director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “The question is whether Santorum can pick off one of the 29 districts, each good for two delegates.”

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