January 25th, 2012
04:00 PM ET
2 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. lance corporal

    I guess the GOP finds these 2 equally distasteful, for once I agree with them

    January 25, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  2. Danny Winslow

    The next election is shaping up to be as big of a sham as the last. Do you know why Sarah Palin's bus tour was really canceled? Do you know why she stayed 30 miles away from the second debate and chose the death of Steve Jobs to announce that she's not running? Know what leaked out? Sarah Palin and Cain aren't in the race for the same reason, the truth leaked out. Search PalinsDirtyLittleSecret for the biggest cover up in history

    January 25, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  3. Momentum is slowing with Newt (and is going to continue to slow).

    America is seeing more and more of this guys's character. Based on what is publicly known about his public and private behavior... this guy does not do well with power in his hands. His grandiosity and narcissism will cause him to implode if he is every in the oval office. Newt would be a disaster for our country.

    January 25, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  4. lB Colorado

    FLORIDA – No need to worry, they let child murderers go free. There will be one or the other to win, but seriously how serious can this be. I will never vote for either of these, not because they are Republican or Democrat, it is because who and what they really are. Romney = thinks he is better than you and me, Gingrich = disgrace – "FAMILY VALUES" – hello is anybody home. Gingrich is not even welcomed by his own party because of the person he is (mean and miserable). Not a fun guy.

    January 25, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  5. Eye Of Newt

    *** 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.

    We are sooooo scared of Newt, we are shaking in our boots,
    and hiding behind the sofa.............Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

    Obama LANDSLIDE !

    January 25, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  6. Scott

    Not sure if this is taken into account with these polls, but a lot of Florida has already voted, with early voting and absentee voting. So if the poll was taken of "people likely to vote Tuesday", it cannot be at all accurate.

    January 25, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  7. ali

    I love Ron Paul, but we as Americans are too into immediate gratification to wait for Paul's spot-on approach to work. We would overcorrect in the 2016 election, and then where would we be? Can you say Europe? We are going to have to suffer for a long time, people. Do we want to do it now or suffer even longer later?

    As far as Gingrich – Romney goes, I can't believe people's stupidity about Gingrich. He would be a great accessory in an administration, but really people? President? The snap judgment after the SC CNN debate just proves my first point. John King is laughing all the way to his voting booth.

    It is simply going to be a rocky ride until, and even long after, the majority of the American public wakes up and smells the coffee. I'm sorry to say it, but basic math proves it to be so.

    January 25, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  8. Kess

    The GOP is going to end up putting Obama back into office for another 4 years.

    If Ron Paul does not get the nomination then Obama will get in office. either or, i cannot vote for these other corperate establishment socialists.

    Ron Paul or BUST!

    January 25, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  9. chillimint

    Gingrich is very smart. He delivers powerful speech.

    January 25, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  10. Jason McClinsey

    Wow, only 9% of Floridians want freedom. These dumb-asses will get what they deserve. What a scary world.

    January 25, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  11. paul

    Mitt is a "plastic" man with not much personality. But, when Newt speaks I automatically start rolling up my pant legs. I have never seen so much BS since I left the farm. I am afraid if the "fact checking" machine was being used when Newt was in a debate, it would be worn out by the time the debate was over.

    January 25, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  12. My name is Jose Jimenez

    newt = a low life form usually frequenting dark moist places under rocks and out of the sun.

    January 25, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  13. Phil in KC

    Wow – talk about rapidly changing. Earlier today, Mitt had a lead of several points.

    January 25, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  14. NoTags

    Gingrich will do well in the southern evangelical Bible belt, i.e. SC, GA, AL, MS, TX, AR. FL is a toss-up with the northern part being southern evangelical, but the remainder of the State more "mainstream". Personally, I don't see any way Gingrich can be the nominee. In any case, I don't believe any of the GOP contenders will beat Obama in 2012.

    January 25, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  15. eddhur

    the rasmussen report is the best poll i no if some one knows any more please post it has newt ahead right now by 8 points i have never seen a cnn poll that was right

    January 25, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  16. littleme

    These polls mean nothing to me. Ron Paul is the only viable candidate!! Obama will win my a landslide unless Paul is on the ticket.

    January 25, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  17. B. A. Lightfoot, Hanston, KS

    A question for the candidates at the debate: To what extent would you support normalization of relations with Cuba?

    January 25, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  18. Lisa

    Is this true?
    Romney tax returns reveal Romney had a "significant stake in Iranian oil and gas interests." Romney said, "I did not direct any of my investments nor did I know of those investments," [Washington Post, 8/15/2007] .

    January 25, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  19. Hanging Chad

    They are right. It is a dead heat among a bunch of dead heads.

    January 25, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  20. Joe

    Using any single poll if a flawed approach from the start. The most accurate polling summaries and analyses can be found at http://www.fivethirtyeight.com, where they compile and normalize all relevant polls into a more meaningful representation of the data gathered in each poll. The track record of this site (which was leased by the New York Times after the 2008 elections) is uncanny and immmensely accurate. That all said, fivethirtyeight.com currently has Gingrich with a 64% chance of winning (with 40% of the votes), Romney at 36% chance of winning (with 36.5% of the votes).

    January 25, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  21. Jimbo

    Newt resembles Richard Nixon in many ways – all undesirable. Arrogant, down-in-the-gutter way of fighting. Speaks a lot for those who support him.

    .

    January 25, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  22. David

    Brainwashed people wanting more of the same thing that is bankrupting us. We will have nobody to blame but ourselves if we keep voluntarily electing these Keynesians in office.

    January 25, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  23. RealPolitics

    The people on this post voting for Obama are scared that their foodstamps will be limited and the amount of their welfare checks cut in half

    January 25, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  24. Kess

    As far as i know Newt still cannot gather enough delegates because he isnt able to run in enough states... so exactly what is the point of his being in the race still?

    January 25, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  25. mochica

    Neither one of these men is fit to hold public office. Ron Paul is the least disgusting of the four, although he wants to eliminate programs that are crucial. People do not CHOOSE to be uninsured, they find themselves in that situation because their employer does not offer it and they cannot afford it. People with 2 part-time jobs are ineligible. No one should lose their home or file for bankruptcy because they can't pay a medical bill. The war in Iraq was much more costly than a national health care plan (with the public option, please) could ever be.

    January 25, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
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