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. RealPolitics

    Here is the problem: Romney has asked for transparency while Newt and the other candidates have asked for transparency from Romeny since last week. When asked in the South Carolina debate by Newt to Romeny about his real position at Bain he did the traditional Romney by avoid the question and answering the earlier question. Floridians should open their eyes and find out if the money that Romeny has investments came from the money he profited while at Bain due to the people Bain fired. Good job on the taxes Mittens but how did you get that money while at Bain?

    January 25, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  2. StLouie

    Dead – steaming pile of heat.

    January 25, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  3. ithinkthat

    Hopefully the Republicans will wake up and vote for someone who actually stands for their values. Ron Paul 2012. Anything else is a vote for Obama.

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

    gingrich and romney are NUT JOBS! Seriously, a vote for them is a vote for obama in the coming re-election. We need to get behind Ron Paul, and I mean NOW! Unless you want nobama for another 4 years...

    January 25, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  5. Bill

    Here's hoping they destroy each other for the good of the country.

    January 25, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  6. LayneP

    Gingrich's ship will be sinking fast now. He frequently plays fast and loose with his record and the truth. Last night he took credit for balancing the budget for 4 years while it was really only balanced for 2 while he was in office, and that is just one of his tall tails. All the fact checking going on today is quite enlightening.

    If you really want to know who the true conservative is don't ask the guy who filmed an ad with Nancy Pelosi promoting climate change, called Paul Ryan's medicare plan right wing social engineering and most recently has spent his time misrepresenting Mitt's successful turnaround record and attacking capitalism. Regan conservative... bah!

    Newt isn't a Washington outsider he is a carrier politician that has spent his life in Washington and the only reason he is still not in Washington is because no one could work with him. He did not walk away, as he stated last night in another unsuccessful try to rewrite history, he resigned in disgrace. Even Ron Paul, who was there, called Gingrich on trying to bend the truth in his favor.

    It was about time someone called Gingrich on his lies. Gingrich tried his old attack the questioner and side step the truth again in the last debate but without an audience to interrupt he couldn't get off the hook and he was left speechless. The Liar was caught.

    January 25, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  7. Jack Be Humble

    What happens if Romney gets 42% of the total Republican Delegates, Gingrich gets 47%, Paul gets 4%, and Santorum gets 7%? What exactly does a "Brokered Convention" mean to the Republican party?

    January 25, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  8. Iamnotfooled

    It doesn't matter. After the State of the Union address people know who we need to lead this country forward and not backward.

    January 25, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  9. MrRickinNH

    Cant wait to see either one of these guys in the reverse mortgage commercials!

    January 25, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  10. PJ

    Romney and his PAC, some of which have close ties to him have spent a fortune on Florida. Fortunately the people of Florida are seeing thru this guy who only pays 14% tax yet has the nerve to say he is "unemployed" (New Hampshire) and to say that he experienced poverty while doing Missionary work in Paris when it has been revealed he lived in a Mansion owned by his Church. Romney is a complete phoney who thinks he can buy the Presidency.

    January 25, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  11. DenverJ

    CNN, over-hype much? The polls may show a swing, but the reality is that seniors tend to vote early by mail. The polls can soar, but can recent Gingrich enthusiasm overcome those ballots already waiting to be counted?

    January 25, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  12. allenwoll

    The "dead" part of "dead heat" is particularly appropriate to the situation ! ! !

    The current behavior of the GoP is simply beyond rational understanding - EVEN desperation does NOT adequately explain it ! ! !

    January 25, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  13. anthony Stark

    Here are your choices America: arrogant or repulsive –and you have to guess which is which.

    January 25, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  14. T'sah From Virginia

    It tickles me to see how each of these candidates reaches out to the minority's vote. They use words like food stamps, sing ghetto to describe the Latino's language, all of a sudden they are FOR the Dream Act and they will go as far as visiting NAACP to teach on how they can do better for Black folks than Black folks themselves?

    Where were these same candidates when they weren't running for President? How much have they done for any community outside of their own backyards? If they were doing good for "any" minority group – negative ads and going below the belt would not be necessary now; their record would be obvious. And these guys want the highest profiled job in the USA that's represents ALL of USA? Nah!

    Obama 2012

    January 25, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  15. JackDW

    These republican choices are beyond horrid. How could anyone vote for a Party so out of touch with what is going on economically across this Country today? Every last cent is gravitating into the hands of the 1% richest at a rate of over 4% increases per year, at the cost of the standard of living for everyone else (who are at a yearly net negative now in the face of inflation), and yet republicans want to give that 1% an even larger break, to make the problem even worse. We know where the money is, who has it, and that because it is not flowing through the economy, it is bringing it down.

    January 25, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    Phyl, Did you mean Obama?

    January 25, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  17. Cyrus

    Bring it on.

    Obama/Clinton 2012
    Clinton/Warren 2016

    January 25, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  18. Dude in Colorado

    @Phyllis – Hitler was elected!

    P.S. How are Mary and Rhoda doing these days?

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

    Coot or Mutt, it really doesn't matter. Throw in Con Paul, and Rick Sanctimonious and it gets more diluted. Barak will whip the pants off of any of them.

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

    I guess seniors in Florida have no idea that Romney is pushing the Paul Ryan plan hard. He plans to cut social security and medicare to the core from day one to fund his tax breaks for the wealthy agenda and his ramping up of defense spending.

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

    Cameron: Newt is running because something has to feed that massive ego of his. He tried to satisfy it first with the Speakers job and got fired...then he tried to feed it with female staffers.....this is the next logical step for a narcissist

    January 25, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  22. John

    "Like all members of the order Caudata, newts are characterised by a frog-like body with four equal sized limbs and a distinct tail. Aquatic larvae have true teeth on both upper and lower jaws, and external gills.[2] They have the ability to regenerate limbs, eyes, spinal cords, hearts, intestines, and upper and lower jaws."

    Newt, is that you? Sure looks like you.

    January 25, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  23. JL Raleigh

    Gingrich is a proven cheater, liar, and hypocrite. The fact that he is in a dead heat with Romney sadly says all that needs to said about Republicans. They are perfectly comfortable with cheaters, liars, and hypocrites...

    January 25, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  24. tstorm

    Republican values aren't American values anymore. Republicans have become the party of big money, greed, and to hell with the middle class. They fight to give the ultra-rich tax cuts but refuse to give tax breaks to the blue collar middle class. They try desperately to mix their private religiona and politics. The GOP has thrown America into the worst recession ever and refuse to take responsiblity for it. America is fed up with Republicans.

    January 25, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  25. Phyllis

    Newt was booted out by the people who knew him best: House GOP members. The more you get to know him, the more there is to dislike.

    January 25, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
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