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.

Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @politicalticker

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. celador2

    This is getting to be a sideshow what with the supporters yelling and carrying on. Rivals also will pad the hall with loud supporters not to be outdone by Gingrich. He is seductive and hypnotic. In another time Newt Gingrich might have sold snake oil.

    January 25, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  2. webber1998

    Not surprising dead heat... Its like trying to decide what scent of enema you want to buy.

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

    The only republican that has defeated Obama in the polls is the only republican not getting any coverage on CNN (Ron Paul). Interesting.

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

    Do you think Palosi has pictures oh his shamalamadingdong?

    January 25, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  5. Tyler1982

    Both of them are garbage. Not sure why anyone in their right mind would support these flip-flopping, smooth-talking, politicians. They care only for their own paychecks.

    Ron Paul 2012.

    January 25, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  6. beevee

    I don't think that Floridians vote for Gingrich. They are more discerning about the merits of the candidates than the S. Carolina voters. Mr. Romeny will come out as winner in Florida. He can articulate better, and unlike Gingrich, is not combative and has clear ideas for his party.

    January 25, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  7. Winner

    Past performance.

    January 25, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  8. Crystal Balls

    Newt – Sleezy washington insider, this guy wrote the book on it.

    Mitt – Wind up doll for wall street.

    Sanctorus – If Hitler was the pope, rick is the devils spawn.

    Rong Paul – Crazy old man dreaming about yesterday.

    Obama – The only way out of this mess.

    January 25, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  9. chris

    I can't believe how stupid Republican voters are. Gingrich will NOT win the general elections as everybody know this guy is dirty and can't be trusted (this is not even about he's personal life). He was a Freddie Mac lobbyist, an insensitive talker who has yapped racist tones against latinos, blacks, and arabs during interviews when angry, and a abominable record during his last year as being the speaker. During the debates, instead of answering issues put on him, he attacks the "styles" and "personal attacks on him" by Romney and the rest of the media SO HE CAN ESCAPE ANSWERING THE QUESTIONS! Stupid GOP voters!

    If Gingrich wins the GOP race, OBAMA WILL WIN THE GENERAL ELECTIONS! If Romney wins the GOP, then that would be a tough match to call!

    January 25, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  10. BeverlyNC

    Yea there sure is a lot of heat coming from from all the hate, negativity, and lies from Republicans and all of the candidates are definitely dead when it comes to electability. Just donate all these corporate billions yo Republicans are being bought with to the homeowners you suddenly claim to care about or to NASA that you suddenly now care about (at least while you were in FL) or to Medicare that you care about when you happen to be around seniors. End this nightmare now. President Obama is going to win and we Democrats are going to take back the House and get to a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Real work for the PEOPLE will then begin to happen and jobs and programs for the People will grow and the middle class will become important again with no Republicans stomping on us.

    January 25, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  11. chris

    I can't believe how stupid Republican voters are. Gingrich will NOT win the general elections as everybody know this guy is dirty and can't be trusted (this is not even about his personal life). He was a Freddie Mac lobbyist, an insensitive talker who has yapped racist tones against latinos, blacks, and arabs during interviews when angry, and a abominable record during his last year as being the speaker. During the debates, instead of answering issues put on him, he attacks the "styles" and "personal attacks on him" by Romney and the rest of the media SO HE CAN ESCAPE ANSWERING THE QUESTIONS! Stupid GOP voters!

    If Gingrich wins the GOP race, OBAMA WILL WIN THE GENERAL ELECTIONS! If Romney wins the GOP, then that would be a tough match to call!

    January 25, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  12. 1olddude

    The best thing is to wait and see what the Florida Republicans do. The polls are generally meaningless

    January 25, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  13. chris

    I can't believe how stupid Republican voters are. Gingrich will NOT win the general elections as everybody knows this guy is dirty and can't be trusted (this is not even about his personal life). He was a Freddie Mac lobbyist, an insensitive talker who has yapped racist tones against latinos, blacks, and arabs during interviews when angry, and a abominable record during his last year as being the speaker. During the debates, instead of answering issues put on him, he attacks the "styles" and "personal attacks on him" by Romney and the rest of the media SO HE CAN ESCAPE ANSWERING THE QUESTIONS! Stupid GOP voters!

    If Gingrich wins the GOP race, OBAMA WILL WIN THE GENERAL ELECTIONS! If Romney wins the GOP, then that would be a tough match to call!

    January 25, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  14. Reasonably

    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...snork...huh, what? Oh – same clowns in the race...back to sleep now...

    January 25, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  15. ObamaisaSocialist

    Way to go CNN! Keep propping up Romney! Newt is going to rain on the Romney parade again come Tuesday!

    January 25, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  16. Rudy NYC

    If you want to know what the priority was that Bain Capital placed on job creation, go read their mission statement at their web site.

    It says a whole lot about delivering returns for their investors. Not jobs. Jobs detract from profits.

    January 25, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  17. Gerald Rampton

    Gingrich always tries to find a small patch of moral high ground on which to stand. No matter how tiny.

    Newt Gingrich insisted Wednesday in Miami that there was nothing similar about his personal failings and those of Bill Clinton—even though both men were having extramarital affairs in the late '90s. And Gingrich, as speaker of the House, tried to impeach Clinton over his.

    Pressed during a forum at Univision—the Spanish-speaking television network—about the hypocrisy involved when “at same time he was doing the exact same thing,” Gingrich was indignant.

    It wasn’t the same thing, Gingrich repeatedly insisted. “I didn’t do the same thing,” he said. “I didn’t lie under oath. I didn’t commit a felony.” He added that in his own divorce depositions, he told the truth—which Clinton did not when asked about Monica Lewinsky.

    Undaunted, journalist Jorge Ramos kept the heat on, provoking Gingrich to testily say, "There’s some place here where there’s a mental synapse missing," since the questioner was still insisting they did the same thing.

    Moving along, Gingrich was then asked about ex-wife Marianne’s charge that he asked for an open marriage so he could continue his affair with now-current wife, Callista. This time, Gingrich did not snap at the questioner—as he had when CNN’s John King made the same inquiry during a debate last week. “It’s not true,” he said crisply.

    January 25, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  18. sftommy

    Can GOP rank and file overcome their prejudice against Mormons? Newt would be gone already except for that.

    January 25, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  19. Michael

    As the GOP get dragged more to the extreme right so they blow their chances.

    January 25, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  20. Jimmy

    Has Romney even won a single primary yet? If not then why is still being considered a front runner?

    January 25, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  21. The Real Tom Paine

    Crazy Uncle, so this is all a plot to deny Ron Paul, that paragon of virtue, a state he's decided to pass on? Ron Paul, the new American Fascist.

    January 25, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  22. Mmmer

    Here is my question for Ron Paul supporters (in all honesty..no antagonism meant)
    Why would I really want to advocate for 'States Rights' if given my experience, I consider it a harmful national practice?

    January 25, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  23. Sarah Hunters

    I LOVE BOTH GINGRICH AND ROMNEY :O
    No matter who wins i hope they pick the other candidate as a running mate :)

    MITT/NEWT 2012

    January 25, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  24. WatchDawg

    The opening line says it all...'Dead Heat..'..as in both Romney and Newt are dead in the water against President Obama...

    January 25, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  25. Riley

    Newt is only HURTING the republicans chances of beating Obama. Come on Mitt Romney.
    President Romney
    Vice President Christie

    January 25, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
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