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

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Gingrich gets major help

soundoff (210 Responses)
  1. Joe Doakes

    Gingrich has Romney nailed on immigration. Romney fired them. Gingrich wants to manufacture them into Americans.

    January 25, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  2. manipulate me

    Newt needs to get newtered!!!

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

    not one of these candidates ever say what exactly they are going to do to turn the economy around; create new jobs; etc. All they seem to do is sling mud. If Obama keeps his mounth shut I think he will be a shoo-in for re-election.

    January 25, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  4. aj

    why does CNN and Fox keep blacking out Ron Paul, millions of Americans like this guy and want to see more of him.

    January 25, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  5. michael

    the way gingrich speaks and attacks and lies reminds me of old footage of Hitler. smart yes good speaker yes dangerous yes appeals to a certain segment of the angry extreme population absolutely yes

    January 25, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  6. Doozer

    I just polled two kids in my house.
    One wants pizza
    the other wants pisketti.

    January 25, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  7. chip

    Gingrich momentum cooling? People must have actually thought about it for 30 seconds. Seriously, his nomination doesn't even pass the "say it out loud test." "Let's elect the two-times divorced hypocrite who was removed from the Speakership by his own party." Yeah, doesn't sound that great.

    January 25, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  8. NeonLeon

    If either of these two win the nomination, it is four more years of Obama. The only candidate who would have a chance against Obama is Ron Paul. I don't care what these fake polls say.

    January 25, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  9. Keola

    Doesn't matter at this point who you vote for, we are still 4-5 years away from any sense of stability. The system is broken and until both parties can come to terms with that and work to improve the situation, we are screwed. Vote for who you want to vote for. It's not going to help... Enjoy 4 more years of political backwash!

    January 25, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  10. michael

    all gingrich needs to do is grow a little mustache and raise his arm in a stiff nazi salute and the transformation is complete

    January 25, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  11. Pragmatist

    In a choice between the "Open Marriage Social Conservative with 84 ethics violations" vs. "Corporations are people my friend", I choose President Barack Obama.

    January 25, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  12. RightCoastVA

    In the course of one day CNN has gone from Newt momentum building in the morning, to Romney builds lead in the afternoon, to a dead heat in the evening.

    You guys really have no idea what's going on down in Florida do you?

    January 25, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  13. sabre5618

    This means that you lunkheads are doing a great job! That is, if your goal is to completely demolish everything that our country was founded on. Keep in mind that the system that you so fervently support IS going to come to an end. So, where does that leave you? If you think the masters you serve are going to take care of you when the status quo goes bust you are sorely mistaken. Wake up America, the government cannot keep running the way it is now. It is economic fact.

    January 25, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  14. Tom

    Looks like Newt has found his Billinonare to fund his campaign...

    January 25, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  15. yourmom

    A choice between Zomney and The Grand Wizard...haha, good luck with that.

    January 25, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  16. REG in AZ

    As stated in a CNN article, "it's perfectly understandable you don't give away that kind of money without expecting something in return", literally puts it in perspective.  The SuperPacs, Cheney's, Rove's, Norquist's and other groups have clearly demonstrated their full intention of controlling government and in demanding what they want, for their limited interests.  The people, the majority don’t have that ability, don't have "the money", and instead are subjected to being targeted by the spending to be conned and manipulated.  The supreme court blew it and the politicians won't do it – can the people do it, can the voters totally reject all of the propaganda aimed at them and firmly reject the "puppet" candidates and thereby make "the money" ineffective?  Or will we once again end up with another "puppet" performing for those who "pull the strings" and neglecting all other responsibilities while just trying to deceive the people, just insultingly taking them for granted; i.e. will we be returned to the costly "more of the same", Bush-Cheney style?

    January 25, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    Mitt is jealous, Newt has had more WIVES

    January 25, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  18. Stan Riley

    If the polls are rigged, I think what we are seeing here is a game of what we call follow the leader. For instance, the candidate you want elected is doing badly according to a poll. His oponent is doing rather well. So with that in mind, the vastly undecided voters and those who feel hopeless will go for the guy in the polls who is doing the best because they think, "well if the majority vote is going to him, I guess ill vote for him as well." ....dont let your mind think this way, vote for who you KNOW is BEST

    January 25, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  19. RightCoastVA

    Just today – Newt builds momentum in the AM, Romney pulls ahead in the afternoon, and in the evening it's a dead heat?

    Don't have a clue what's going on in Florida do ya?

    January 25, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  20. westward

    The GOP lineup is PATHETIC. Amazing – after all the GOP has put America through with the financial meltdown they caused – THIS is the best they could do on the other side of it??? It's enough to make you sick!

    January 25, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  21. Keola

    I'm sorry, but how does being divorsed have anything to do with your profession? I don't care if someone was married 37 times, if they get the job done who cares! But none of the four canidates will do spit with the pit of hell that American is heading for.

    January 25, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  22. Patriot Awesome

    Gingrich / Chtulhu 2012!! Don't settle for the lesser of 2 evils, vote for the greatest!!

    January 25, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  23. Crazy Uncle

    Newt the liar and cheat? Or Mitt -(Obama Lite) the flip-flopper?

    Ron Paul – Do your own research.

    January 25, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  24. Alex

    We DO need a third party, and Paul would win the election...hands down.

    January 25, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  25. manhandler

    Let me see, I've read about five different polls today that say five different things, so why should I pay the slightest bit of attention to ANY of them? It's like the networks have a obscessive, compulsive disorder....gotta have a poll, gotta have a poll, GOTTA HAVE A POLL! Oh THAT poll.........that was 2 PM's poll.....it's old, it's 3:00 PM now and there's a whole NEW poll out that says the opposite of the 2:00 PM poll. It's a sure indicator that these news sites have NOTHING to talk about.

    January 25, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
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