Mitt Romney may be on his way to a decisive victory in the Florida GOP primary Tuesday, according to a new NBC/Marist poll.
Romney leads Newt Gingrich by 15 points, 42 percent to 27 percent in the crucial state. Rick Santorum is third with 16 percent, followed by Ron Paul with 11 percent. Just 4 percent said they were undecided.
"The bottom line in all this is Romney's sitting in the driver's seat going into Tuesday," said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion at Marist College, who conducted the poll.
(...) Romney beats Gingrich and the rest of the field by winning broadly across many subgroups -- those who are not Tea Party supporters (52 percent), those who are liberal or moderate (49 percent), make more than $75,000 a year (49 percent), identify as "conservative" (47 percent), and, in particular with women.
There was a stark gender gap between Romney and Gingrich. Women said they preferred Romney by 47-26 percent over Gingrich. The gap is closer with men, but Romney leads with them as well, 38-29 percent.
"He's winning both," Miringoff said, "but runs up the score among women."
Romney also does well enough with Tea Party supporters, splitting the vote with Gingrich. Gingrich leads among that group, 36 percent to 34 percent, with Santorum taking 22 percent. And, Romney runs even or leads Gingrich in the traditionally more conservative northern part of the state. In addition, more GOP primary voters said Romney represented their views on immigration than any other candidate.
Romney also leads among evangelical Christians, receiving the support of 34 percent, compared to 28 percent for Gingrich. Six-in-10 GOP primary voters said they believed Mormons are Christians. But even among those who say they don't believe so, Romney splits the vote with Gingrich. In 2008, born-again or evangelical voters made up 39 percent of the GOP primary in Florida, lower than the 60 percent who identified as such in Iowa and South Carolina.
Gingrich leads Santorum among "very conservative" voters 36 percent to 29 percent. Romney gets about a quarter of that group -- 24 percent.
But Gingrich would have a hard time arguing that a majority is voting against Romney, and that if Santorum were not in the race, he would win. When Santorum is removed from the equation, his vote splits off evenly between Romney and Gingrich -- and Romney leads Gingrich by an even wider 16-point margin, 49-33 percent.