Romney lead over Gingrich up in Florida: Reuters/Ipsos poll

WASHINGTON Sun Jan 29, 2012 5:29pm EST

1 of 6. Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney listens as he is introduced at a campaign rally in Naples, Florida January 29, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican White House hopeful Mitt Romney's lead over rival Newt Gingrich edged up to 12 percentage points in Florida, according to Reuters/Ipsos online poll results on Sunday, as Romney's front-runner status stabilized and Gingrich continued to slip.

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor and private equity executive, was supported by 42 percent of likely Florida voters surveyed in the online three-day tracking poll, just down from 43 percent in the same poll on Saturday. Romney was at 41 percent on Friday.

But with just two days before the state's primary on Tuesday, Gingrich's support was at 30 percent, down from 32 percent in Saturday's results and 33 percent on Friday.

The gap between the two was 11 percent when poll respondents were asked about a hypothetical head-to-head race between the rivals in the race for the Republican presidential nomination to oppose President Barack Obama in the general election in November.

If the race were between Romney and Gingrich only, Romney would be at 55 percent to Gingrich's 44 percent, according to the Sunday's results. On Saturday the gap between the two was eight percentage points and on Friday it was just two, when respondents were asked the same question.

"Newt Gingrich's position in the primary race is really starting to lose support," said Chris Jackson, research director for Ipsos Public Affairs.

The poll results, similar to those of several other surveys, illustrated Romney's remarkable turnaround since South Carolina's primary on January 21, which Gingrich won in a surprise upset.

"Gingrich got a big boost out of South Carolina, but he's losing that," said Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak.

"It's clear that Romney's run a much more focused and effective campaign in Florida than Newt," he said. "Newt's playing defense every single day in every way and doesn't seem to be able to make Romney play defense."

Romney had two strong debate performances this week and has jumped to a solid lead over Gingrich, whom he had trailed in earlier opinion polls in Florida. He has taken steady aim at Gingrich on the debate stage and in attack ads as a politician who left government under an ethics cloud and has remained a Washington insider ever since.


Romney has a solid advantage in money and organization over Gingrich in Florida, and the month ahead does not look much better for the former speaker as the state-by-state race for the Republican nomination continues.

Four states with February contests - Nevada, Maine, Colorado and Minnesota - use caucus systems, which can require greater organization to rally voter turnout. That could help Romney take advantage of his superior financial and staff resources.

On February 28, Michigan and Arizona hold primaries. Romney was raised in Michigan, where his father was a governor and car executive.

"February does not look like a good month for Newt," Mackowiak said.

But his failure to gain more support among likely voters in Florida's primary, which is limited only to registered Republicans, shows that Romney is still not electrifying the party faithful. "He's not the guy that everyone loves and rallies behind," Jackson said. "He's not getting that huge rally of support."

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum trailed well behind with 16 percent support, the same as Saturday's level. Santorum seemed to be gaining momentum as an "alternate" to Romney. Thirty-eight percent of likely voters said he would be their second choice if their first choice left the race, up from 33 percent on Saturday and 30 percent on Friday.

But it is probably too close to the January 31 vote to make a difference, Jackson said.

Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who is not campaigning in Florida, was at 6 percent.

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online surveys, but this poll of 726 likely voters in the Florida primary has a credibility interval of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points for registered voters.

Sunday's Reuters/Ipsos survey is the third of four daily tracking polls being released ahead of Tuesday's Florida primary.

(Reporting By Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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Comments (14)
ManuelLittle wrote:
Each poll has a sampling margin of error. This article makes deductions from percentages that are within the sampling margin of error. The actual error of the poll is larger than the sampling margin of error. OK. Romney is obviously ahead, per this poll, but nonsense making deductions from results which are comparing two polls with different questions – it shows whoever wrote this article doesn’t know statistics.

Jan 29, 2012 1:28am EST  --  Report as abuse
fromthecenter wrote:
Should I vote for this loser or this loser. I hope romney wins, he will become the poster boy for what is wrong with our current tax system.

Jan 29, 2012 10:02am EST  --  Report as abuse
thinkingright wrote:
As a resident of Massachusets during Romneys years as Governor,I can state unequivically,that Romney will say anything,and be anyone,as long as it gets him votes.He is the most insincere man I have EVER met,and it is beyond me how Floridians prefer this chronic Mormon liar,over a man with a fantastic grasp of Government,who knows how to impose his agenda.Romney is John McCain all over again,minus the war hero scenario.Obama will rip this flip flopper to pieces,and he cannot even use Obamacare against him,because Romney is the inventor of Obamacare.Plus there are well over 35 million animal lovers,who will never vote for a man who rides around with his dog on top of the roof of his car,instead of inside with the family.I don’t have a dog,and I think that this is a disgrace.We started the Tea Party to make our voices heard,not to be swayed by millions of dollars in propaganda,being used by the Mormons.I thought we were headed for a Christian Nation,under God,that works for the vast majority of us,who are Christians.I stromgly urge people review what Mormonism is about.No one would vote for a Muslim,or Scientologist,and Mormonism is no better.Our faith demands we make the right choice.

Jan 29, 2012 11:06am EST  --  Report as abuse
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