Mitt Romney has opened up a substantial lead on Newt Gingrich in Tuesday's Florida Republican presidential primary and could even exceed 50 percent of the vote, according to two new polls conducted over the weekend and released on Monday.
The first poll, conducted Friday through Sunday by Quinnipiac University, shows Romney leading Gingrich by 14 points, 43 percent to 29 percent. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, and former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., trail, each earning 11 percent. Just seven percent of likely voters are undecided.
The second survey, conducted Saturday and Sunday by Suffolk University for a Miami television station, shows Romney opening up a 20-point lead over Gingrich, 47 percent to 27 percent. Santorum is at 12 percent, Paul at 9 percent, and 5 percent of likely primary voters are undecided.
"When you see numbers like these, Romney is actually flirting with a 50 percent threshold, which would be devastating to his opponents given how difficult it is to get to that threshold in a multi-candidate field," said Suffolk University Political Research Center director David Paleologos.
The breadth of Romney's lead is striking. In the Quinnipiac poll, the former Massachusetts governor leads Gingrich among the more conservative voters who had thus far been resistant to him. He leads Gingrich by five percentage points among GOP primary voters who support the tea party, and he has a separate, five-point edge among white, born-again or evangelical Christian voters. Those leads are padded by advantages of more than 20 points among those who do not support the tea party and non-evangelicals.
In the Suffolk poll, Romney leads Gingrich, the former House speaker, by 9 percentage points among conservatives and 5 points among those who say their values are similar to the tea party. He leads Gingrich by 21 points among male voters.
Romney also has a substantial number of votes in the bank from early voters, according to the Suffolk poll, which shows him leading Gingrich among those who have already voted, 55 percent to 24 percent.
The Quinnipiac poll surveyed 539 likely primary voters, for a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.
The Suffolk poll, conducted for WSVN-TV in Miami, surveyed 500 likely primary voters, for a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.