An astounding poll from the American Research Group has Newt Gingrich at fifty percent support in the key state of Florida:
Newt Gingrich 50%
Mitt Romney 19%
Herman Cain 10%
Jon Huntsman 3%
Ron Paul 2%
Rick Perry 2%
Rick Santorum 1%
Michele Bachmann 1%
Buddy Roemer 1%
Just look at who’s suddenly at the head of the second tier in Florida, with a muscular 3%. Huntmentum!
This is a remarkably strong fusion around the top candidates, and a huge surge for Gingrich, who stood at 11% in the same poll in October. Other polls confirm his strength in early primary states, as Jonathan Tobin relates in Commentary:
It may not last, but there’s no denying Newt Gingrich’s surge is for real. A bevy of newly released surveys all show the same thing: the former Speaker of the House’s ratings have zoomed in the last month, with him surpassing Mitt Romney in key states. Among the most impressive results was the Florida Times-Union’s survey that showed Gingrich being the choice of 41 percent of likely Republican primary voters with Romney a distant second with 17 percent.
Other polls show Gingrich leading in Iowa, South Carolina and Louisiana with Romney ahead in California. While California is far bigger than the states Gingrich is leading in, it is also a late voting state that will do Romney little good if he loses the more crucial early primaries and caucuses.
At the national level, Rasumussen has Gingrich polling ahead of President Obama, 45% to 43%.
It looks as if a lot of support from other campaigns is flowing toward Gingrich, while Romney remains stuck in his permanent 20%-25% position. It’s remarkable how little of the ebb and flow between other candidates seems to affect Romney.
If you prefer a different not-Romney candidate (or Romney), now is the time to make your preferences known. And this is the time to voice approval and disapproval of any given candidate. There’s always a lot of grumbling about how strong criticism in the primary weakens a candidate in the general election… but when else are they supposed to take their lumps?
I haven’t heard much thrown at any of these people that wasn’t going to be brought up by Democrat opposition researchers, including the ones that anchor news programs, during the general election. Discontented Republican voters aren’t unearthing buried secrets that would have otherwise lain dormant. That’s what I found so unsettling about Romney’s “how dare you ask about my record” meltdown on Fox News earlier this week. Brett Baier is not going to be the most hostile interview Romney faces during this campaign, and it’s either disingenuous, or hallucinatory, to pretend otherwise.
Also, much of the debate surrounding the candidates includes the curious notion that a specific criticism is tantamount to blanket condemnation. That feels like the cultural influence of Internet flame wars, where everything from music to movies is either the best thing ever, or a craptacular disaster. One can have serious qualms about Gingrich’s immigration stance, Romney’s Massachusetts health care plan, or Herman Cain’s 999 Plan without necessarily foreclosing all possibility of support for those individuals, unless of course the critic explicitly say so. This is the time to render both pointed questions and general objections.