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. 4sanity

    Come on Republicans, vote for the lying, adulterous hypocrite. Vote Newt 2012 ! "You can do it. Yes you can !"

    January 25, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  2. Thanos

    Not Surprised. Florida is just as backwards and racist as South Carolina. Newt is going to win in most of the southern states where his racially charged rhetoric holds weight.

    January 25, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  3. LIBERTY NOW

    Ron Paul, if you want a future

    January 25, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  4. Rudy NYC

    Gerald Rampton wrote:

    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.
    -----------------
    According to Newt's own rationale for bringing impeachment charges against Clinton, which is why he was testifying before Congress in the first place, the did do the same thing.

    Gingrich brought Clinton up for impeachment because of "character" issues. At the time Newt defended the action by saying that an adulterer is unfit to be POTUS. Newt is projecting the issue to a non sequitor. The issue is the reason why he impeached Clinton in the first place, which was because Newt felt that Clinton was an adulterer.

    January 25, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  5. The Anti-Dumb Club

    You gotta be kidding.....Mr. G is a smooth talker with a history of deceptive qualities. a tremendous diservice will be done should we give him the nomination. Bad Idea

    January 25, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  6. Lesser of all evils

    Gingrich will never garner independent support, he is an amoral and egotistical hypocrite. Santorum won't either, since he practically advocates turning the US into a theocracy. Ron Paul doesn't get enough coverage for people to get to know his stance on issues and until the media gives him a fair shake he won't gain enough credibility to be taken seriously. Romney may be a flip flopper and is definitely out-of-touch with normal Americans, but is more moderate and that could help him. Obama, sadly, is the only real choice for independents. If last night's State of the Union address is really the direction he will try to take the country, then he's worth investing another 4 years in. Until the GOP can put up a relatable candidate who isn't a slave to corporations and greed, they're doomed to give Dems the White House. And after Congress's performance this past year, it'd take a lot of apathetic voters not to boot them out this next go around.

    January 25, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  7. Doozer

    Do they still hang chads in Florida ?
    Maybe they should just hang the candidates.
    Start with Noot, i wanna see his eye balls pop out.
    When they hang Mittens, we find out he is a robot,
    when he starts leaking oil and springs.
    Ron Paul will drop dead of a heart attack,
    and we find Widdle Wicky on his knees
    praying that gays stop throwing glitter on him.

    Is the clown car empty yet ?

    January 25, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  8. Bill

    that is funny, everybody I know is voting for Ron Paul and knows that everybody else is a crook. And those who are not voting for him either like Obumer or just say "Ron Paul can't win". So instead of voting for somebody who can save the country, they think they will win the lottery if they pick the winner of the election. Just shows you how stupid and brainwashed Americans are.

    January 25, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  9. Doug Johnon

    THESE POLLS ARE MADE UP!!! They are just try to force feed these crooks an sensor Ron Paul.

    January 25, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  10. ali

    Riley: I don't think Christie would agree to it (VP), but if he would, and if Romney would announce that now, it could very well seal the election. I wish they were working on it.

    Those of you who think Obama is the answer are the very people who need to wake up. I agree he is the most dynamic speaker of the bunch. I agree he is eloquent and smart. Make him poet laureate. He has a capacity for denial regarding this economy that is taking us deeper and deeper. Of course he did not start it. But we need to deal in the here and now, and we are in trouble. I want to love him, but Obama does not have the answers.

    Please wake up, everyone. We are creating a nightmare for our children!

    January 25, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  11. matt

    Go Romney! – so what if he is rich, he is also intelligent and not as corrupt as NEWTY.

    January 25, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  12. tevii

    With these two candidates Republicans unfortunately don't have a chance. We are looking at another four years with Obama

    January 25, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  13. Todd C

    Ron Paul might as well withdraw. By walking away from Florida, he's walked away from the election. Every time he pulls low teens or single digits in a primary, voters in subsequent primary states write him off as a wasted vote. Not only that, he has forfeited what little media time he might have gotten for the next two weeks. It's game over.

    January 25, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  14. Patrick

    Obama v. Romney = Obama by single percentage points
    Obama v Gin Grinch = Obama by double digits
    Obama v Saniterium = Rick and Newtered can room with Hinkley
    Obama v RuPaul (Hey RuPaul would have a better chance).... the Miltary would kill him after he tried to get rid of the Army

    January 25, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  15. Stephen in VA

    @Thanos: Newt's got no chance of winning here in Virginia. He failed to even get on the ballot, which makes our primary kinda boring.

    January 25, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  16. americanfirst

    Many people are unaware of the fact that when Romney was asked by his old employer, Bill Bain, to come back to Bain & Company as CEO to rescue the firm from bankruptcy, Romney left Bain Capital to work at Bain & Company for an annual salary of one dollar. When Romney went to the rescue of the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics, he accepted no salary for three years, and wouldn’t use an expense account. He also accepted no salary as Governor of Massachusetts.

    It's called Character for those that don't recognize it! It's something we desperately need in our American leaders!

    January 25, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  17. Rob

    MEDIA BLACKOUT: NEWT AND SANTORUM CANNOT WIN. To secure the GOP nomination, a candidate needs at least 1145 of the 2288 delegates. Gingrich and Santorum are not on the ballots in states that will provide a total of 564 delegates Missouri, Illinois, Dist of Columbia, Ohio and Virginia . That means that one or the other needs 66.42% of the remaining 1,724 delegates to reach 1,145. This is it people. Moderate progressive Romney or Libertarian Conservative Ron Paul...–Jason Thompson.

    January 25, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  18. The Left Wing

    What will Republicans do?
    OK, we have the greedy flip-flopper that real only understands and supports the 1%
    vs.
    the flip-flopping mean guy that is in it for his ego.
    The greedy establishment part of the party will go for their own, Romney.
    The angry Tea Partiers will go for Gingrich. They like mean.
    The social conservative/evangelicals/born again Christians will go for...
    Well probably not for the social conservative, Santorum, if South Carolina is any guide.
    Certainly not for the libertarian, Paul. He'll just get libertarians to vote for him.
    Well, they have the 1%er that is a family guy and a Mormon and the mean guy that has the most questionable personal morals seen for a long time in a Presidential candidate. Well, the social conservatives are mad. I predict they'll go for the mean guy, Gingrich, over the family guy, Romney.

    January 25, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  19. Bigred

    To the two worst Republican presidential wannabe's; "Your reality, sir, is lies and balderdash and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever”

    January 25, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  20. Gloria

    The man who is POTUS now is the only one who should be POTUS!

    Obama/Biden 2012

    January 25, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  21. robert

    Wow, we're in 2012, and so many commentors STILL believe that public voting actually decides the outcome for American presidency and agendas?

    January 25, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  22. americanfirst

    I will be voting for Mitt Romney and hoping for a good veep!!!
    I will not vote for Barack Obama or any other Democrat – ever!

    January 25, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  23. Mmmer

    Obama is not going to 'destroy America' and he isn't trying to. If anything, he saved America from implosion in year one. He was not given enough credit for diverting the economic distaster that could have truly 'destroyed' America. He has been an excellent president and deserves relection. He's got my vote. Obama 2012!!

    January 25, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  24. buddha2112

    Let me get this straight...CNN has done the same thing for the last three states. Also remember Floridians have a problem when it comes to voting.
    We'll get the results in about 4 or 5 months

    He turned me into a NEWT...but I got better.
    Romney...The 15 %ter
    Santorum...Jesus NO!
    Paul...Google Frank Zappa & Ron Paul (or go to You Tube)

    Obama/Clinton = The race has been won before it began.

    January 25, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  25. Boink

    Newt hit on Pelosi.
    Pelosi hit Newt.
    Story at eleven.

    January 25, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
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