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Florida Poll: Gingrich Surges to Tie Romney Florida Poll: Gingrich Surges to Tie Romney

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The Trail: 2012 Presidential News from the Field

CAMPAIGN 2012

Florida Poll: Gingrich Surges to Tie Romney

S.C. momentum fuels voter confidence in former House speaker.

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Republican presidential candidate former House speaker Newt Gingrich laughs at a comment by Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, not seen, during a Republican presidential debate Monday, Jan. 23, 2012, at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)  (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Newt Gingrich is surging in Florida ahead of that state's GOP presidential primary next Tuesday, according to the first nonpartisan, live-caller poll conducted in the state since Gingrich's blowout victory in South Carolina last Saturday.

Quinnipiac University began conducting a poll in the state on Thursday, two days before the South Carolina primary, and continued interviews through Monday.

 

For the full poll, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leads Gingrich, 36 percent to 34 percent, within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. Former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., is third, with 13 percent. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, is at 10 percent. Eight percent prefer another candidate or are undecided.

But Quinnipiac also separated the poll into interviews conducted Thursday through Saturday—leading up to the South Carolina primary—and interviews conducted Sunday and Monday, after the primary. Before Gingrich's South Carolina win, he trailed Romney by 11 percentage points, 37 percent to 26 percent. Santorum and Paul ran stronger before South Carolina, each earning 15 percent.

Among those surveyed after South Carolina primary, Gingrich surged into a slight lead, outpacing Romney, 40 percent to 34 percent. Santorum slipped to 11 percent, while Paul fell to 6 percent.

 

"Gingrich's South Carolina victory clearly gives him a boost in Florida," Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said  on Wednesday in a news release. "The question is whether there is more of that to come, or whether any bump from a previous victory will dissipate, as happened to Rick Santorum in New Hampshire after winning, Iowa and Romney in South Carolina after taking New Hampshire."

More than anything, South Carolina may have, at least temporarily, restored Gingrich's viability. Before his win, 55 percent of likely Florida primary voters said Romney was the candidate best able to defeat President Obama in the general election, while just 26 percent picked Gingrich. But after, Gingrich closed the gap, narrowly trailing Romney on that question, 45 percent to 42 percent.

The overall poll surveyed 601 likely Republican primary voters. That includes 254 interviews conducted prior to the South Carolina primary, and 347 interviews conducted after. The margins of error for those two subsamples are plus or minus 6.2 percentage points and 5.3 percentage points, respectively.

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