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Poll: Romney Leads Gingrich, Santorum in Fla. Poll: Romney Leads Gingrich, Santorum in Fla.

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The Trail: 2012 Presidential News from the Field / CAMPAIGN 2012

Poll: Romney Leads Gingrich, Santorum in Fla.

Republican presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, center, meets with supporters during the grand opening of his Florida campaign headquarters in Tampa in September.(AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

photo of Steven Shepard
January 9, 2012

All eyes are on New Hampshire ahead of Tuesday's first-in-the-nation primary, but a new poll in delegate-rich Florida released early Monday shows former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has a significant lead in that state ahead of its Jan. 31 primary, raising the possibility that the fight for the Republican presidential nomination could be all but over in the next three weeks.

According to the poll, conducted by Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn., Romney leads former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, 36 percent to 24 percent, among likely GOP primary voters. Former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., was third, at 16 percent. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, was fourth, at 10 percent. Texas Gov. Rick Perry runs fifth, at 5 percent, followed by former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, at 2 percent.

Romney runs best among more moderate GOP voters, but conservatives also view him favorably. He leads among moderates, with 41 percent of the vote, compared to 15 percent for Gingrich and Paul. But 77 percent of conservatives have a favorable opinion of Romney, and he leads Gingrich among that group, 35 percent to 28 percent.

 

Among primary voters who say they support the tea party, Romney and Gingrich are tied; each captures 32 percent of the vote. But those who do not identify with the tea party support Romney over Gingrich, 38 percent to 20 percent.

Just 44 percent of likely primary voters say their minds are made up, including 44 percent of Romney supporters. But the next two primaries could help tilt the balance for the GOP frontrunner: Romney has healthy leads in the two primaries preceding Florida, outpacing the field in New Hampshire and in Jan. 21's South Carolina primary.

The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted Jan. 4-8, surveying 560 likely Republican primary voters. The margin of error is +/- 4.1 percent.

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