January 25th, 2012
04:00 PM ET
3 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:

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Gingrich gets major help

soundoff (210 Responses)
  1. GEETO

    Throw them both in the commode. The terd that floats wins the nomination and gets the privelege of being flushed down by Obama in November.

    January 25, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  2. starfury

    The only person that stands a chance of defeating Obama in 2012 is Romney. If Newt gets the nomination, the DEMS HAVE LITTLE TO FEAR for re-election

    January 25, 2012 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  3. Jacinto

    Ron Paul 2012!!!!!!!!!

    January 25, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  4. Mmmer

    Anybody else out there remember how great 'states' rights' was? It might work if people would learn to treat one another with respect. Sometimes the federal government just has to walk the little girl into school.

    January 25, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  5. tom

    Why isn't anyone reporting the fact that neither Santorum or Gingrich can win the delegate count needed for the nomination?Newt isn't on the ballot in Virginia,Missouri,or Ohio!Santorum isn't on the ballot in Virginia or Illinois.They would have to get at least 60% of the vote from here on out!Only Romney and Paul are on the ballot in ALL 50 states!

    January 25, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  6. Josef Bleaux

    The Republican clown car is headed for Florida. Good place for it. They should just stay there with the senile old fogies.

    January 25, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  7. ravelbas

    Choosing between the Pillsbury Doughboy and a Ken doll is no choice at all.

    January 25, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  8. Crocker's Common Sense

    The other clown who is in office now ain't doing such a great job either. He's had almost four years to get it done. Time for a new President in the taxpayer's house.

    January 25, 2012 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  9. roman

    newts will endorse ron paul and give him his delegates and santorum will endorse romney and give him his delegates. but most unpledged delegates probably go to ron paul. if romney doesn't win on first ballot, i hope he doesn't, ron paul wins on second ballot. we will have a president that will save our country.

    January 25, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  10. skarphace

    Paul is polling below Santorum both nationally and in Florida?

    Oh well. I guess my vote will go to Obama in November. It has been either Paul or Obama for some time now, but Republicans just can't see past their 'Anybody but Obama' rhetoric to the real situation.

    January 25, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
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