Florida On the Eve of the Primary: Romney Ahead, But Is His Lead Narrowing?


Some national polling firms have released weekend results that show Mitt Romney is still well ahead in Florida, but his lead may have narrowed somewhat.

A Rasmussen poll from Saturday showed Romney with his biggest lead to date, fully 16 points ahead of Gingrich.  Their results were Romney 44, Gingrich 28, Santorum 12, Paul 10.

A Quinnipiac poll covering the entire period after the last Florida debate, from Friday through Sunday, had Romney ahead by 14 points: Romney 43, Gingrich 29, Santorum 11, Paul 11.  Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, saw doom for Gingrich’s national campaign in these numbers: “Governor Mitt Romney is headed towards a double-digit victory that touches all the GOP bases.  Romney carries every part of the GOP coalition, including the parts central to Gingrich: self-described conservatives, white evangelical Christians and Tea Party supporters. If this margin holds up tomorrow, it’s hard to see where Gingrich goes from here.”

However, weekend polls from Insider Advantage and Public Policy Polling had Romney with a much narrower lead of 5 to 7 points.  The Insider Advantage poll on Sunday had Romney in the lead with 36 percent of the vote, followed by Gingrich 31, Santorum 12, and Paul 12.  Noteworthy, considering the immigration policy dispute that caused fireworks between Romney and Gingrich at the last debate, is that Gingrich is ahead by 42–29 among Hispanic voters in this poll.

Also notable is that Rick Santorum’s widely hailed performance at last Thursday’s debate doesn’t seem to have moved his numbers any.  He’s consistently pulling 12 to 14 percent in Florida polls, and is essentially tied with Ron Paul.  Weekend polling for Santorum might have been weakened by news he was leaving Florida to return to Pennsylvania, initially because he said he needed to attend to his taxes, although it was later revealed his daughter Bella had been hospitalized with pneumonia.  Happily, her condition has improved, and her father is optimistic she’ll be able to come home soon.

Gallup still has Gingrich ahead in national polls: Gingrich 32, Romney 24, Santorum 15, Paul 15.  The latest report says there is “no sign in Gallup Daily tracking from Jan. 22-26 that Gingrich is giving back any of his recent gains.”  However, this report was issued on Friday, making it a little older than the most recent batch of Florida polls.