The new poll results from Gallup are as follows:
Mitt Romney 31%
Newt Gingrich 26%
Rick Santorum 16%
Ron Paul 11%
Gallup notes that “support for Santorum has been holding steady near 16% in recent days, while support for Paul has dwindled slightly.”
This poll was taken between January 27 – 31, so it includes only one night of polling that would reflect Romney’s victory in the Florida primary. Gallup expects that “Romney’s current five-percentage-point lead will likely expand in the coming days, following the pattern seen previously for the primary victors,” but also notes that front-runners have risen and fallen many times during this primary race.
It also looks like Romney is opening a huge lead in Nevada, the next caucus state, while Ron Paul is dramatically under-performing. Nevada has 28 delegates, and will award them proportionally. The latest poll from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, also taken between January 27 – 31, shows Romney ahead with 45 percent of the vote, followed by Gingrich with 25, Santorum with 11, and Paul with 9.
Paul is making a strong push in Nevada, and was expected to gain support from libertarian voters, but at the moment he’s running well behind his second-place 2008 showing. In contrast, Santorum has only just begun making an effort in Nevada, and yet he’s running 2 points ahead of Paul. The Review-Journal notes that Paul sometimes outperforms polls during the actual election, because his supporters are so loyal and well-organized. Also, the Paul campaign says his Nevada voters are still angry after a bad robocall experience with the McCain campaign in 2008, and therefore do not respond to telephone polls, making the Review-Journal’s results problematic.
Mormons are a strong presence in the Nevada Republican Party, making up fully a quarter of primary voters, but Romney’s ahead with virtually every other religious group as well, while Gingrich is the favorite of Tea Party supporters in the state. The Tea Party looks divided in Nevada, however, as Romney is only running 10 points behind Gingrich with them, while Santorum enjoys 20 percent of their support.
Despite Romney’s commanding lead in the polls, the other candidates are spoiling for a fight in Nevada. The Gingrich campaign claims to have internal polling that shows their candidate essentially tied with Romney, while the Paul campaign still thinks their man can actually win the state, especially if turnout is low.