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

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Gingrich gets major help

soundoff (210 Responses)
  1. Will

    Hmm, do I vote for the guy who divorced his cancer-stricken wife while she was in the hospital undergoing treatment, or the guy who strapped a dog to the roof of his car and drove to Canada? It's hard to decide which!

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

    I have nothing to say. All is well.

    January 25, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  3. Alina1

    Newt cant wait for Romney to kick him out, he doesn't want to be a President (because no one from Republican establishment will allow him) , but maaan he will make money for being second...... THIS IS NEWT a money making machine. He will bombard us with his books ,I bet one of those books name will be "How this idiots almost made me a President".

    January 25, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  4. SciGuy

    Mmmer: umm, because you understand that the Const.itution is the law of the land and it mandates states rights.

    January 25, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  5. Grand Oil Party

    LOL at Newt balancing the budget. Without the tax increases Clinton insisted on before agreeing to welfare reform, the budget would have been just as bad as Bush's. We have to face facts here – to balance the budget and pay down the debt, we either agree to raise taxes or gut Social Security, Medicare and the military. Since no one wants to gut these programs (although I'd get behind gutting the military), a combination of taxes and cuts is necessary. Personally, I think we should raise taxes until the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are paid for completely – our children had nothing to do with these wars (either did I, but I'd rather pay for them now than make my kids pay for them).

    January 25, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  6. Flowin' Eddie

    CNN's own poll of web site readers clearly indicated most who voted wanted Ron Paul as the nominee. What happened to those results? Can't believe that only Mitt and Newt are the chosen by the people. Face it everyone, the game is rigged.

    January 25, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  7. Ryan834455

    9% Are awake. 91% are still sleeping.

    January 25, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  8. Jacinto

    Fake poll is fake.CNN just held a poll ,who was going to be the best republican candidate to beat Obama and Ron Paul came out 1st with 35% of the votes or 98,000 voters.Romney came 2nd with 33% and 94,000

    January 25, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  9. shawn4films

    Most foreign dictators have fewer moral and ethical problems than Newt. Way to go America for even considering someone that Nasty. Ron Paul Revolution!

    January 25, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  10. K.A. Villa

    I got two words for you: Hanging Chads

    'Nuf said...

    January 25, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  11. westward

    Enough already! Can we just clear the stage of the GOP clowns?!?!?!

    January 25, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  12. SciGuy

    TheRealTomPaine (sic): if you were a real modern day Tom Paine you'd support Ron Paul. So either join the team, or change your name is my advice.

    January 25, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  13. Mark

    Republicans stand united in the statement that there most important objective is to defeat Obama. It's not jobs for Americans. Republicans obstruct any legislation that is good for the nation as a part of the plan to make Obama look bad so he can be defeated. Republicans don't care about the nation. Obama has done nothing but work to advance jobs and do what is best for the nation. Republicans and their business supporters don't care about the nation, only themselves.

    January 25, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  14. Stephen in VA

    "BREAKING NEWS: Florida Republicans can't tell who's the greater sleazeball" would've been a more honest headline.

    January 25, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  15. z

    only 369 people. whatev cnn.

    January 25, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  16. norman

    Obama didn't mention anything about national debt increasing and his healthcare insurance plan; penalizing rich people can't make our economy better. Bringing back foreign outsourcing is not that easy for many companies. His stimulation program is not working either. RP is only solution for 2012 election.

    January 25, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  17. vic , nashville ,tn

    Newt don’t care these Polls he can change these numbers in 48hrs He did it SC he will do it Fl too

    January 25, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  18. Leonard Wyatt

    How could anyone with a sane mind vote for Gingrich? He was kicked out of Congress for christs sake!!!

    January 25, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  19. marketmutt

    I don't care who the Repblican candidate is, or what smear campaign Pelosi or others come up with, I'm voting Republican and I'm voting against Obama.

    4 more years of Obama and capitalism and American exceptionalism are toast.

    January 25, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  20. Name tunji12

    Jop candidates they trying harder to win in florida but mitt rommey newt gingrich ron paul santorum all themes are anti imingrants becaus want to established laws that will let local police asking people for their residences / in that's case alone it's maken me personally hates voting for any republicans

    January 25, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  21. Jeff MA

    I cannot believe either of them have made it this far! There was a time when you ran for President Example: like Obama, to make things better, ran with idea's and didn't give up.

    Still, Neither one has a plan. My guess is, they plan on losing. I do not trust Romney or Newt. Period. Both of them disgust me.

    January 25, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  22. Jason S.

    Newt looks like the white Sherman Klump from "The Nutty Professor." Mitt looks like Mel Gibson. Conservatives can vote for the guy that mistreats women or the guy that looks like someone who does.

    January 25, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  23. Christine

    America.. We NEED MItt, and should be thrilled he is running!! No more Washington insiders! We need a smart business man that knows how to create jobs and get the economy moving forward! He has a proven track record. Let's not mess this up. VOTE FOR MITT!!!!! VOTE FOR MITT!!!!

    January 25, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  24. PREDICTA

    Up, down, up down..this is how it works folks. Mitt will win some, Newt will win some and the nominee will be selected at the convention in August.

    January 25, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  25. Tommy Funebo

    The poll is baloney, and Diebold will take care of the rest.

    End the war. End the Fed. End the federal income tax.

    January 25, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
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