Poll: Romney, Gingrich Tied In Florida

December 31, 2011

As Florida voters begin to focus on the state’s pivotal GOP presidential primary at the end of January, the leading contenders are former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia, according to a poll by TelOpinion Research.

Romney and Gingrich are essentially in a statistical dead heat, with Romney leading with 27 percent of the vote to Gingrich’s 26, according to the telephone survey of 780 Republican voters, conducted from Dec. 15-19.

Bill Lee, a Republican pollster who co-founded TelOpinion, said that matches the national pattern, with Romney and Gingrich drawing most of the media attention.

“Leading into Iowa, this is essentially a tie ball game between those two,” Lee said.

The trend also matches an ideological split that appears to have hampered Romney’s drive to the nomination: Doubts remain about him among the most conservative elements of the Republican Party and religious conservatives. Among self-identified members of the tea-party movement, Gingrich leads by eight points, 28-16. The two men almost evenly divide other voters, 28-26 in favor of Romney.

Gingrich also leads by 14 percentage points among very conservative voters, while Romney holds a 15-point edge among those who call themselves “somewhat conservative.” The two are essentially tied among moderates, with Gingrich holding a 20-17 advantage.

Gingrich also leads Romney among those who attend church more than once a week, with those who go to church weekly about evenly split. Voters who attend less frequently favor Romney, often strongly.

The poll was conducted just as Gingrich, who surged to the front of the pack on the strength of debate performances, saw his numbers begin to slip in Iowa and elsewhere under a barrage of attacks from his competitors and so-called Super PACs supporting them.

And 31 percent of Republican voters in Florida said they hadn’t decided who to back, meaning the race remains volatile with about a month to go before the Jan. 31 primary.

None of their other competitors hit double digits. Texas Congressman Ron Paul, whose libertarian streak has vaulted him into contention in Iowa, holds just 5 percent of the votes of those surveyed by TelOpinion. Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Texas Gov. Rick Perry — who had hoped to perform strongly in Florida — were next, tied at 4 percent.
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who had initially based his campaign in Florida before shifting his focus to New Hampshire, was tied with former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum with 1 percent.

Brian Graham, a Republican consultant in Florida not aligned with any of the candidates, said he wasn’t surprised that the candidates drawing the most coverage are getting the highest numbers.

“They are the candidates with the most name ID,” Graham said. “This is a big state. … Most candidates haven’t paid much attention to Florida right now.”

As votes roll in from early states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina and candidates ramp up their efforts in Florida, Graham said the situation could change, even beyond the voters who call themselves undecided.

“I would highly doubt that any of the voters are truly, truly firmly decided on their candidates,” he said.

The poll was another dose of bad news for Perry, who had taken a lead in the state shortly after announcing his candidacy but before a series of debate gaffes undermined his candidacy.

Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon, one of Perry’s earliest supporters, brushed aside a question earlier this month about whether he was surprised that the governor’s campaign had failed to gain traction.

“I think if anything, I’m surprised at the overall ups and downs of all of the candidates,” Cannon said.

Graham said Perry’s gaffes had badly hurt him among Republican voters who are concerned chiefly with defeating President Barack Obama in the November elections.

“I think that a lot of Republicans were uncomfortable with Rick Perry’s inability to perform well with public speaking and the debates,” he said.

But Lee said the 31 percent undecided bloc could still make room for one more candidate with the necessary resources if it moves beyond Iowa and the first-in-the-nation primary in New Hampshire. Perry raised millions before his troubles began.

“The third player might be Governor Perry,” Lee said.

By The News Service of Florida


3 Responses to “Poll: Romney, Gingrich Tied In Florida”

  1. friction_against_the_machine on January 3rd, 2012 2:19 pm

    Ron Paul’s domestic policy is a great change in what we have, however, his foreign policy is guaranteed to take us into a world war and may be illegal…as such I would cite the following:

    1. Treaties are the law of the land, they’re negotiated by the President and approved by the Senate…if a President Paul attempted to take us out of Korea and Japan, he would theoretically be breaking the law and subject to impeachment.

    2. Taking us out of Korea and Japan would send a signal to North Korea to invade, or pop a nuke on Japan…it would also tell Iran to attack Israel….next they would be coming for us…not a good scenario.

    Gingrich is the only true Tea Party candidate that can pull it off. Romney can’t and won’t beat Obama, yeah you heard it hear first. Gingrich can beat him like a drum. I don’t trust Romney…consider this:

    a. He had all of his hard drives and personal files destroyed when he left office in Massachusetts.
    b. He hired a consulting firm to tell him where to stand on abortion when he ran for governor of Massachusetts. (I didn’t make this up, a distant cousin of his just wrote an autobiography on him that said so).
    c. Romney has flipped flopped on many issues. When governor of Massachusetts he was pro gun control, pro gay marriage and pro state run health care. He is attempting to run to the right but govern (if elected from the center).

    In my opinion, he’s a political opportunist that will do anything to get elected. There’s a mantra in the Republican elite that allows the second place candidate from the last Presidential race to be the favored nominee. The only time in recent memory that the pattern was broken was when Reagan was elected in 1980. If Reagan was running now, the Republican elite and the political opportunists would shove him to the back of the bus for Romney because some polling organization says Romney is more electable.

    It’s time people wake up and spend more time researching the people that run this country than they spend researching Alabama/LSU stats and make an informed decision. Whoever you vote for it’s your decision, but it’s just that-your decision…don’t go by what some news columnist, local leader, preacher, or other person tells you. Do your homework and make an informed decision.

  2. huh on December 31st, 2011 11:22 pm

    Ron Paul for sure, he has the only consistent voting record and wants to do away with lobbying. Romney and Gingrich are just puppets for big corporations, they will just do whatever they tell them to do with large amounts of cash

  3. Elizabeth on December 31st, 2011 8:52 pm

    I heart Ron Paul.

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