January 25th, 2012
04:00 PM ET
3 years ago

CNN/Time Poll: Dead heat in Florida ahead of debate

Jacksonville, Florida (CNN) - One day before the final GOP presidential debate in Florida, it's all tied up between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, according to a new survey.

A CNN/Time/ORC International Poll also indicates that while Gingrich surged following his 12-point victory in Saturday's South Carolina primary, his momentum appears to be quickly cooling off.

CNN LIVE: Tune in Thursday at 8 p.m. ET for the CNN/Republican Party of Florida Debate hosted by Wolf Blitzer and follow it on Twitter at #CNNDebate. For real-time coverage of the Florida primary, go to CNNPolitics.com or to the CNN apps or CNN mobile web site.

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According to the poll, 36% of people likely to vote in Tuesday's Republican primary in the Sunshine State say they are backing Romney as the party's nominee, with 34% supporting Gingrich. The former Massachusetts governor's two point margin over the former House speaker is well within the survey's sampling error.

Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania is at 11% and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas is at 9%, with 7% unsure. The poll's Wednesday release comes one day before a CNN-Republican Party of Florida presidential debate at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. The showdown is the last time the candidates will face off on the same stage before Tuesday's winner-take-all primary, where 50 delegates are up for grabs.

"In the wake of his double-digit victory in the South Carolina primary, Newt Gingrich has nearly doubled his support in Florida," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "The current numbers are the result of some wild swings for and against the two frontrunners."

Gingrich was at 18% support in Florida and trailed Romney by 25 points in CNN's last poll in the state, which was conducted Jan. 13-17.

The new survey was conducted Sunday through Tuesday, after the Palmetto State primary, and mostly before and partially after Monday night's Republican presidential debate in Tampa, where in a role reversal, Romney aggressively attacked Gingrich.

On Sunday, the day after Gingrich won big in South Carolina, he was at 38% in Florida, with Romney at 36%, Santorum at 11% and Paul at 8%. Looking only at Monday and Tuesday's results, Romney was at 38%, Gingrich 29% Santorum at 11% and Paul at 9%.

"Gingrich's post-Palmetto State bounce did not last long," adds Holland. "Monday's debate may have something to do with that, but the data indicate that the shift to Romney began
before the debate started, so there are clearly other forces at work."

The poll indicates that Gingrich has a 10-point lead over Romney among self-described conservatives and appears to do better than Romney among born-again Christians and tea party movement supporters. The geography of the state appears to back that up - Gingrich does five points better than Romney in the more conservative northern and central parts of Florida; Romney does better in Tampa Bay, Miami, and southern Florida, where moderates and northern transplants are more prevalent.

A gender gap appears to have developed as well. In South Carolina, Gingrich won among men and women, according to exit polls. But in Florida, although Gingrich has an edge among men, Romney had the advantage among women.

"Some of that may be due to recent coverage of Gingrich's personal life, but it is almost certainly due to other factors as well. Gingrich's favorable rating has consistently been higher among men than among women for years before he became a presidential candidate, suggesting that men may find his red-meat approach to issues more appealing than women do," says Holland.
With six days to go until Florida's GOP primary, which is only open to registered Republicans, one in four questioned said they may change their minds on which candidate they are supporting, while 64% said they are definitely sticking with the candidate they are currently backing.

The CNN/Time poll was conducted by ORC International from January 22-24, with 369 likely Florida GOP primary voters questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus five percentage points.

Also see:

Live blog: 2012 State of the Union

New Freddie Mac contract prohibits 'lobbying activities'

Romney resets image with postcards from the edge

Gingrich gets major help

soundoff (210 Responses)
  1. Cross

    Honsetly? Paul is the only one for the job.

    RON PAUL 2012.

    January 25, 2012 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  2. b in fl

    where do these polls come from, nobody sees them are they made up?

    January 25, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  3. miseducated

    LOL, this is hilarious. Its like picking between herpes and ghonorrea.....no matter which one you pick, you can't get rid of em.

    In a review of 44 recent statements by Newt Gingrich, Politifact.com rates three as true and four as mostly true. It rates nine as mostly false, nine as completely false and eight as "pants on fire" lies. Eleven are rated half-true, the same as half-false. In other words, he makes false claims 59% of the time. And another 25% of the time, he's telling half-truths. He browbeats, belittles and speaks the truth 15% of the time.

    January 25, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  4. Jariv

    We need you Mitt !!!! Romney 2012. A true leader for America.

    January 25, 2012 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  5. analysis

    Is it safe to say that if Santorum drops out now Newt takes Florida?

    January 25, 2012 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  6. pltofish

    This is 'breaking news'...... it must be a REALLY slow news day. Surely there is a man biting a dog somewhere?

    January 25, 2012 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  7. BruntLIVE

    I am so glad someone is saying TIE or Romney, seems like Newt can never be behind

    January 25, 2012 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  8. Tom

    They ARE made up big time – CNN wants to clog up the race, so the GOP won't have a clear candidate.
    Anyways, Newt is the best!

    January 25, 2012 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  9. Alex Emmett

    Obama Wins the election. who cares

    January 25, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  10. cameron

    I'm sorry, why was Newt running again?

    January 25, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  11. ethan

    The media is crafting this race. The population gets all their info from a few news sources. Since those sources favor some info over other info and never get into the REAL issues they effectively decide who people will vote for. The large majority of Americans are ignorant of the real problems and real root causes of those problems (like the FED)

    January 25, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  12. zooni

    Considering how wrong the polls have been in SC, these polls are just propaganda.

    January 25, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  13. Realist

    False, I'm in Jacksonville and a student at UNF campus where the debate will be tommorow.....Ron Paul's support dwarfs any other candidate's support

    January 25, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  14. Michelachek

    and my balls also hang in a statistical tie, from time to time, on cold days though, one def hangs lower than the other.

    January 25, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  15. BLKMANinAmerica

    WOW, now we can sleep knowing the "breaking news" is nothing new! NO ONE CARES!

    January 25, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  16. Alex Emmett

    Newt is running for Idiot an Chief

    January 25, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  17. Phyllis

    Let's hope Gingrich is peaking and will go down from here. The man is a great public speaker. But so was Hitler.

    January 25, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  18. Jessica

    CNN, please stick to the issues with all candidates. No more stupid questions.
    With that said, Newt is the only one who can beat Obama, and can ... and has, done what needs to be done to turn this country around before being destroyed by Obama. Two things Newt has done that can have dramatic, instant results: Balance the budget and welfare reform!

    January 25, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  19. billman

    More lies from liberal CNN-what were the polls before Newt rolled over Mitt in SC? Newt will win by 15 points-bank on it! The media and the White House want Mitt-they are scared of Newt, that is clear.

    January 25, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  20. NMorrison

    No critical thinkers in SC. Hope Fl voters think before voting for an unethical former speaker.

    January 25, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  21. Stephen

    Seriously, these are the frontrunners? Paul needs to drop out and run as an independent. He'll never be the nominee regardless of how many votes he receives. Both of these loons will wreck the country just as bad as Obama. Not that either of them have a chance against him. Obama would shred Romney in any debate, and Newt is too much of a neocon to win over independents.

    January 25, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  22. Stephen

    Seriously, these are the frontrunners? Paul needs to drop out and run as an independent. He'll never be the nominee regardless of how many votes he receives. Both of these loons will wreck the country just as bad as Obama. Not that either of them have a chance against him. Obama would shred Romney in any debate, and Newt is too much of a neocon to win over independents...

    January 25, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  23. bookgirl

    McCain for president. He's quoted as saying that there should be fewer debates. That gets my vote.

    January 25, 2012 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  24. mikedeang

    Obama is a tough act to follow. These two look absolutely irrelevant now.

    January 25, 2012 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  25. Debby

    369 people thats all tha live in Florida!

    January 25, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
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