According to a new poll release by Gallup, Newt Gingrich has older, conservative Republicans to thank for his apparent lead in the GOP race for nomination.

When asked who they would prefer for the 2012 GOP nod, 40 percent of Republicans aged 55 and older preferred Gingrich, compared to 23 percent selecting Mitt Romney.

Additionally, more right-leaning Republicans prefer Gingrich regardless of age - 41 percent of conservatives chose Gingrich versus 21 percent for Romney. Gingrich also leads Romney among those 35 to 54 years of age, but by a smaller margin of 12 percent.

Romney is holding his ground with the younger generation aged 18 to 34, slightly ahead of Gingrich and Ron Paul.

“The significance of the older, more Republican-oriented nature of Gingrich's support base is that these groups traditionally turn out to vote at higher rates than their younger, more independent counterparts,” states Gallup.

The results are based on interviews with 1,665 Republicans and Republican-leaning registered voters in Dec. 5-11 Gallup Daily tracking.