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. Jonathan

    RON PAUL is what America needs. the establishment knows that he is the one that can change everything so they rarely or dont even show anything about Ron Paul so that lazy and ignorant Americans can put another puppet in office to do anything that the GREEDY lobbyists orders him to do...RON PAUL

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

    Let's see. The guy who was forced out of the House after supposed ethics violations, who gets kick-backs from taxpayer funded GSEs, and who is a serial adulterer is now surging in the polls? Is that really the best we can do?

    January 25, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  3. Stanton

    Twiddle-da and twiddle-dee.

    January 25, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  4. brian

    About Newt:
    Are you guys forgetting he is just a good speaker thats it, he acts tough he is a draft dodger -proven. He is a lobbyist-proven, he caused chaos in congress they voted him out-proven. He is running on a platform of conservative values and divorced 2 wives to get a younger one -proven. He wants war with Iran -proven and he will not repeal the NDAA bill-proven.

    January 25, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  5. don smith

    go Mitt..cult leader and millionaire so out of touch with people its ridiculous, and Newt..well sad day indeed

    January 25, 2012 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  6. Glenn Koons, LB, Ca.

    On Univision and in Miami today, the Cuban community in the thousands rallied for Newt. Mitt should win Fla. because of his fine organ. but if Newt wins, a hurricane will be flowing all through the primary states.

    January 25, 2012 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  7. Ragatang

    I can't believe that Newt and Romney are all the repubican has to offer. None of them worth the office of the presidency of United States.

    January 25, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  8. John B

    Dead heat for Florida race:

    The Dead: 90% of the Republican base...they just won't lie down yet (too old and stubborn I suppose)
    The heat: It was rather warm today.
    Florida: The land of the old farts with no clue.

    All Obama has to do is get white old people to start telling everyone in Florida that the Republicans are going to take away their SS payments and Medicare and he will win the state. They will believe anything an old white person says to them.

    January 25, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  9. C

    Cnn is a joke. santorum romney and gingrich are lying, war mongering a holes who will do nothing but drive our nation and world into the ground even more. Ron Paul is the only one who pursue peace and who offers real solutions to solving our debt crisis. Mainstream media supports the status quo, is clearly biased, and does so, because the same big corporations who own all of the politicians in power and the military industrial complex, also own mainstream media and all of the networks. Our nation is a joke. And the informed of our nation have realized this, especially the youth of America. That is why the youth support Ron Paul, because he supports peace, is dignified and honest, while the rest are liars who will just tell you whatever they think you want to hear, pander to corporate lobbyist, and the old, dying, dinosaur republican baby-boomers who put this nation into the mess it is in today, support these morons because they believe they are right in the warmongering, establishment efforts in their twisted version of a conservative, honest reality. What -a -joke.

    January 25, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  10. T'sah From Virginia

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

    LMAO – and what is a mom/dad to do???

    January 25, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  11. FPikes

    Please Mitt or anybody but Newt .. does he not remind you of those Presidents in the TV show 24 w/ Keither Sutherland .. scary

    January 25, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  12. Sarah Hunters

    Why is the Internet filled with so many paranoid conspiracy theorists? Seriously you need to get over yourselves, just because you don't like the outcome of a poll doesn't mean they're fake.

    January 25, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  13. don

    When you don't have a real candidate, this is what you get, a mixed bag of nuts. LOL.

    January 25, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  14. Lunie Jean

    President Barack Obama is a man of action, he is the greatest figure the world ever known.

    January 25, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  15. Ace

    Ask Newt about his second wife again, maybe he'll pop a vein onstage.

    January 25, 2012 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  16. nori

    Dum and Dumber .... So glad im not republican. Thats gotta hurt.

    January 25, 2012 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  17. Guest

    This needs to be one of the last debates for a while – I'm with McCain – enough of this. In fact, I've seen more than enough and don't expect that any of the candidates can make a marginal difference in how voters view them. The GOP should consider that if the debate exposure of their candidates becomes overkill, it could backfire on them. It's hard to erase the unflattering images of Mitt and Newt on stage thus far – and then have it blown out of proportion by shows like Comedy Central. There was a lesson to be learned back in 2004 when Sarah was ridiculed and became a detriment to the ticket.

    January 25, 2012 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  18. Valentina

    @ 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."

    The issues are not Newt being twice-divorced (although in my view it should matter if one is running to be POTUS), the issues that people have trouble with are 1) the fact that Newt was pushing for Clinton's impeachment while he was cheating on his second wife sleeping with Callista, 2) that he divorced both of his wives shortly after they were diagnosed with severe and life-altering disease (first wife with cancer and second with MS), and 3) his personal life actions are darn good indication of his characterl.

    January 25, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  19. sortakinda

    News, news, news. Keep stoking those fires. The conventions are months away. It's the hare ahead–no its the tortoise-no, it's Jeb Bush!

    January 25, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  20. Scott

    The closer they are the better, then it really does not matter which on wins since Florida's delagates are awarded proportionally. At this point all Florida means is that the race will continue elsewhere and possible that one or two of the lesser candidates might drop out after they show poorly.

    January 25, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  21. GM Graham Jr

    Gingrich, is a smart man and I hopes he beats Romney, I do not trust Romney, I am a conservative, but if it comes down between Obama & the Romney, MY VOTE is for OBAMA, although I hope GINGRICH, wins!!!

    January 25, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  22. cheap stunt

    the fact that anyone would vote for either of those clowns proves how dumbed down of a society we've become.

    January 25, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  23. roman

    ron paul will get gingrich' delegates when he quits in june since he knows paul since the 70's, ron is true conservative, he is for state rights, knows more state's senators and governors, has the republican youth, can attract independents and democrats, has the right foreign policy, is evangelical and is not romney.

    January 25, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  24. sabre5618

    The greatest threat to The United States right now is all about economics. The reason we go to war is because the government has to borrow money to do it. Thereby increasing the profits for the Federal Reserve. (which is a PRVATELY HELD FOR-PROFIT CORPORATION) Research for yourselves Goldman-Sachs and find out where there former executives end up. If you're too lazy, I'll tell ya. They end up at our Federal Reserve, our treasury department and as the heads of numerous European central banks, the World Bank and the IMF. Find out where their campaign contributions go. The countries we go to war with are based entirely upon their unwillingness to continue to use the US Dollar in their trading. If you plan to vote for anyone other than Ron Paul, then I sugest you learn some survival skills and purchase the neccessary supplies to ensure your families well being as the US economy will collapse entirely. Broaden your perspective by looking for news sources outside the US and take a look at the other side of the pond. Once Europe completely falls apart, the US will collapse shortly after. The transfer of wealth from the United States people, to the tune of trillions of dollars, will destroy this country. Research this for yourself, don't take my word for it, you won't believe me until you do. Look up the results of the partial Fed audit, the bailouts for the US banks and the bailout of the Euro. That was YOUR money, and it's gone. You won't get it back. Not with Romney. Not with Gingrich and not with Obama.

    January 25, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  25. Mike

    What is up with support for Newt? He's like a mentally crippled Boss Hogg. Do we want Boss Hogg for president?
    He cant stay focused on anything, he makes stuff up whole cloth, he's almost as insane as Bachman and Palin, EVERYONE who has ever worked with him says "Good grief, dont elect that guy, he's unstable", he has direct ties to the corrupt lenders that caused our current economic crisis, he has had EIGHTY FOUR ethics-violations on his record – Whats the deal? Are people scared that Romney seems too boring? Romney makes money by smart economic choices and investing, Newt by consulting with criminals. I'm probably going to vote for Obama, but good grief – Romney is the only guy on the other side who doesn't seem like a... I dont even know what to say. President Nice-Hair vs President Narcissitic Boss Hogg crazy evil guy?

    And yes, Ron Paul seems like a nice guy, and is popular among a very narrow segment of students and under-18, and aside from some unfortunately too-far-out-there ideas, he does seem pretty smart – but c'mon.

    Any party that honestly puts forth people like Bachmann, Perry, Newt, Palin etc – what is wrong with you people?

    Romney has an extremely viable chance of defeating Obama. Newt has zero chance, Paul has less than zero chance.

    January 25, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
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