A new American Research Group poll, conducted on Thursday and Friday, shows Newt Gingrich surging to an amazing 40 – 26 lead over Mitt Romney, as reported by CNN:
ARG’s last poll, released Thursday, showed a virtual tie with Gingrich at 33% and Romney at 32%.
Two weeks ago, Romney’s campaign was looking at two wins under its belt, a big lead in South Carolina, a bigger lead in Florida and the possibility of a clear path to the Republican presidential nomination.
But a day before the vote, Romney’s camp was downplaying expectations and Gingrich’s predicting victory.
“It’s tight, it’s real tight,” said one Romney adviser who did not want to be quoted discussing internal poll numbers.
40 to 26 is not “real tight,” although most other polls taken recently show a more modest lead. PPP polling had him 9 points ahead, 37-28, in a poll covering Wednesday through Friday… although, on the final night of the poll, after Thursday night’s debate, they had the exact same figures as ARG, showing Gingrich ahead 40 to 26.
The ARG survey uses likely voters, the most reliable polling metric. Rounding out the field are Ron Paul at 18 percent, and Rick Santorum at 13 percent. Only 2 percent of poll respondents declared themselves “undecided.”
Romney has a 20-point lead over Gingrich in most polls of Florida, where the next primary will be held, although I haven’t seen a Florida poll taken recently enough to factor in Gingrich’s South Carolina surge, the Thursday night debate, and Rick Perry’s endorsement.