(CNN) – Newt Gingrich is the frontrunner for the GOP nomination in the early primary states of South Carolina and Florida, but he and fellow top-tier candidate Mitt Romney fall short when faced with President Barack Obama, according to a new survey.
The NBC News/Marist poll released Sunday showed Gingrich, the former House speaker, leading Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, by 19 percentage points in South Carolina and by 15 points in Florida as he continues his surge in the 2012 race.
In South Carolina, which hosts the first primary in the South, Gingrich received 42% to Romney's 23% among likely Republican primary voters. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas followed with 9% while Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Texas Gov. Rick Perry tied at 7%. The other candidates received less than 5%. A similar survey taken in October had Romney vying for the lead with then-candidate Herman Cain, who suspended his campaign amid controversy earlier this month.
In Florida, the site of another early primary, Gingrich led Romney by 44% to 29%, followed by Paul with 8% among likely Republican primary voters. The remaining candidates received less than 5%. The Sunshine State figures are another blow to Romney, who was in a close battle with Cain for the top spot in the October poll.
CNN/TIME/ORC polls released recently showed similar results with Gingrich ahead of Romney by 23 percentage points in South Carolina and Florida.
However, Obama would beat Gingrich and Romney in both states, according to polling results on such hypothetical general election match-ups in South Carolina, a reliably Republican state and the battleground of Florida.
Obama, who lost South Carolina to Sen. John McCain in 2008, leads Romney there, 45% to 42%, a disparity within the margin of error. Obama also leads Gingrich 46% to 42%. The result is a reversal for Romney, who bested the president by six percentage points in the October poll.
In Florida, a state Obama captured in the last election, he would beat Romney 48% to 41% and Gingrich 51% to 39% in a potential match-up. In October, voters were divided between Romney and Obama.
The new figures also showed voters in the two crucial states are more committed to their choices than they were in October, with 43% of likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina saying they are firmly behind their choice and 47% saying the same in Florida.
However, Gingrich received more loyal support from his backers than Romney. Half of the voters in South Carolina who said they were behind Gingrich reported unwavering support, while 34% who backed Romney said the same. The difference was even greater in Florida, where 60% of Gingrich backers said they were strongly behind him and 38% said the same about Romney.
In South Carolina, 2,107 registered voters, 957 potential Republican primary voters and 635 likely voters were questioned by telephone between Dec. 4 and Dec. 6, with respective sampling errors of 2.1 percentage points, 3.2 percentage points and 3.9 percentage points.
In Florida, 2,119 registered voters, 683 potential Republican primary voters and 469 likely voters were questioned by telephone between Dec. 4 and Dec. 7, with respective sampling errors of 2.1 percentage points, 3.8 percentage points and 4.5 percentage points.
The real truth will be in November. Every incumbent President has an advantage, until the people go to the polls, and really speak their minds.
In Florida, our Canadian neighbors have done more for our economy than our elected republicans who have taken us back 50 years.
I find it amusing whenever conservatives sing the chorus line about how Obama has been a disaster and is bad for the economy. Don't they realize that they are criticizing him for not fixing the disaster that their ideology created?
President Obama may still be reelected in 2012 election. I believe things will be getting better next year.
It will be sad if americans make the same mistake twice and vote Obama in. I guess most people like our country being downgraded debt wise, worse health care options, higher taxes, more regulation, fewer jobs. HUM! can't figure out why you'd ever vote him back in?????
Democrats outnumber republicans by 500,000 in Florida, but they don't always vote. Look at what the election of 2010 gave us when democrats stayed home, an unconvicted criminal governor, and a champion of the suppress the vote effort, Our newly elected senator is a cabana boy for Dick Armey, and our representative in Lee County is a Californian who votes against workers, veterans, seniors, and the middle class.
Hey republicans a lot of you think Newt will clobber the president in a debate because he is not smart because he is black have a lot to learn. I quess you forgot the health care debate at the republican retreat. Some people complain the president is to much of a policy wonk and that means he knows the details of the issues.
Ron Paul gets 9% in South Carolina? I thought SC was a Libertarian stronghold.
Obama has not yet had any debate with any GOP hopeful but it is consistently showing he is leading in the poll. Many other independent voters and I keep asking how any of the GOP presidential candidates who will be nominated, based on their vision for the Majority of Americans; their record and their performance in the debates, is going to beat president Obama in Nov 2012. What about those who received the single digit in the poll? Why are they still running and wasting money?
Gingrich is guaranteed to be successful at one thing...whether he wins the nomination or not, he will ensure the Romney will never be elected president. He has made Romney look bad without even really trying.
Squabbling about $500,000 line of credit at Tiffany's and $10,000 debate wagers? Everyday occurrences for the middle class ... oh! ... wait. What? What's that, you're saying? Folks in the middle class don't have lines of credit at Tiffany's or wage $10,000 bets in one night? Oh! Yeah, I see. Um ... sorry, my bad.
Obama leads the repubs in South Carolina!!! WOW!!! He's looking good against the clowns.
It doesn't matter who emerges as the driver of the GOP Clown Car, President Obama will be re-elected.
The Republicans decided that they would try to run on a platform of trying to obstruct the President in his efforts to do the best for the American people as he saw fit.
"Hell, no!" is a fine way to rile up the base, but will fall far short in the general.
I'm a likely Obama 2012 voter (umless Huntsman wins the primary which ain't happening) but I cannot imagine Obama winning South Carolina.. Something must be wrong with that poll!
Any good news for Gingich is automatically good news for Obama.
Gingrich is the original Mr. Gridlock. He wrote the book on of "How to Attack your Colleagues and Get Nothing Done." If this is the best the republicans can do – the GOP is in shambles.
Between unauthentic Romney and Bad reputation Gingrich I'll stay with bad reputation, and between Bad reputation Gingrich and weak un-experienced Obama, well that's a hard one!
That where this independent is going since the GOP cannot produce a viable candidate.
Sorry GOP, but you blew it. I mean, REALLY blew it. You could have won.
the media is being very nice to gingrich. Why? Are you all that afraid of Ron Paul becoming the frontrunner?
Obama in 2012, it is a given.
All it will take is one Obama Gingrich debate with Obama's Ummm. Uh. ohhh (Ah where's my teleprompter). Game over.
President Obama is showing he is a tough leader and the Republicans look like fools whenever they slam him on important issues, especially on foreign policy. I don't like Donald Trump, but I'm glad he continues to make the Republican Party look like a traveling circus. Go Obama 2012!
Ft. Myers, FL
South Carolina will prove to be a real problem for Gingrich because of the ignorant religious right that will either vote for Perry or stay home. An ignorant southern redneck is good at cutting off their nose to spite their face. In fact, I have spoken with many ignorant religious South Carolina Perry supporters who have said they will vote for Obama before Gingrich, because Obama is at least a family man who has never been divorced.
Sometimes I am ashamed to live in South Carolina.
Obama can't lose.
He is guaranteed to run against a circus clown.
The blinders are off. The American mainstream is beginning to awake from its long hibernation. The gop's current agenda is a gun pointed at the head of the American middle class a vote for them is suicide by gop. It has not always been this way ,there was a time when the gop represented a strong counterpoint to extreme liberalism, however the party has been corrupted by extremists with personal agendas and they are not lacking in resources. The use of fear and hatred can only drive a rational man to do so much. Hopefully we can get back to the issues at hand, rebuilding America. To do this we need to work together and turn our backs on the propaganda of division and obstruction. It is time to think of ourselves again as Americans first the only pledge we need to concern ourselves with is allegiance to this nation which we have helped to build.Hopefully we can all come together and start to work again by turning away from those on either side of the fence who would turn us against each other.